Office of Equity and Diversity Presents Inaugural Social Justice Awards

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Faculty, staff, and students attend “White Coats for Black Lives” in June.

The Office of Equity and Diversity (OED) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center today recognized honorees of its inaugural Social Justice Awards.

Tiffinie Snowden, UTHSC OED Inclusion Strategist, hosted the virtual ceremony which recognized UTHSC students, residents, and fellows whose actions demonstrate the importance of social justice activism and equity and diversity, while positively impacting UTHSC and the community.

During the ceremony, OED presented a slideshow of images from June when hundreds of health care professionals, staff, and students participated in the “White Coats for Black Lives,” protest on campus, which displayed solidarity against racism.

“Because social justice extends beyond race, we created the social justice awards,” Michael Alston, EdD, CCDP/AP, assistant vice chancellor for the Office of Equity and Diversity, chief diversity officer, and Title IX coordinator for UTHSC said. “It was something the Office of Equity and Diversity wanted to do in this space that will be sustainable, and not just focused on why we were there in protest on June 5. Under the word social justice, I want you to think about human rights, access, participation, and equity because this is what you see in the body of work that these individuals have put forth.”

The Student Social Justice and Diversity Healthcare Leadership Awards were presented to three students.

Elizabeth Clayton, M2, College of Medicine
Clayton helped to organize the “White Coats for Black Lives” demonstration. She also participated in creating the “Uncomfortable Conversations” series which addressed racism and inequities in the health care system.

Shiyar Kapan, P3, College of Pharmacy
Kapan helped to develop a series of listening sessions through the Office of Student Affairs and hosted a session on “Systemic Racism,” recruiting facilitators and planning discussion groups during the sessions, thus creating a safe space for fellow students.

Chidi Zacheaus, Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD student, College of Graduate Health Sciences
Zacheaus initiated a community service outreach committee for the Graduate Student Executive Council and has led a discussion group within the college on topics such as social justice and diversity.

The Social Justice in Healthcare Leadership Award was presented to one resident.

Margaret Armour-Jones, MD, UTHSC GME Chattanooga resident
Dr. Armour-Jones has been an advocate for LGBTQ issues. She is part of a project that teaches how to use features in the EMR system to document gender and preferred names.

Honorees were selected from nominations submitted by several colleges and the Office of Graduate Medical Education, and were reviewed and ranked by separate committees for each award.

Each winner will receive a one-time $500 stipend for professional development and a commemorative plaque. The Student Social Justice and Diversity Healthcare Leadership Awards are jointly funded by the colleges and the Social Justice in Healthcare Leadership Award are jointly funded in collaboration with each Office of Graduate Medical Education.

Terri Freeman, president of the National Civil Rights Museum, closed the ceremony by recognizing the winners and said, “In your work, you carry on the legacy of Dr. King. He said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We need your hard work and effort to ensure that every human being has a right to good health care that is life saving and life preserving.”