2018 Value Community and Diversity Reception Recognizes NEOMED Students

When Andre Burton, J.D., interim vice president for the Office of Human Resources & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, stepped to the podium at the 2018 Value Community and Diversity Reception, he hinted that the audience would be in for a treat ― a chance to hear some really significant achievements by all of the student nominees. 

The reading of the nominations for each of the 14 students was a first for this event. And Burton, who is not prone to hyperbole, didn’t disappoint. As he and chair of the diversity council, Julie Aultman, Ph.D., took turns reading about the students nominated for two annual awards ― the Community Builder Award and the Walgreens Pharmacy Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award – attendees in the packed Cook Alumni Hall seemed to marvel at the magnitude of the service being provided across the globe by these already-busy medical students.

Community Builder Award

The Community Builder award recognizes a medicine, pharmacy or graduate student who has demonstrated a commitment to being open and sensitive to the unique needs and interests of diverse populations. After the eight nominees were recognized, it was announced that Carmen Javier, a second-year medicine student, and Katherine Joyce, a fourth-year medicine student, were both winners.

Javier, who is the chapter founder and inaugural president of NEOMED’s Latino Medical Student Association, began working to improve the lives of others before moving to Ohio. She served as a volunteer services coordinator at the Community Health Corps at the Venice (California) Family Clinic. She also held the UCLA Fellowship for International Service and Health in Mexico. Javier focused on cultural awareness as a Spanish language instructor for children ages 3-7 at a Great Lakes Science Center summer camp.

Prior to medical school, Katherine Joyce advocated for children who were impacted by poverty as she worked at the flagship site of a multi-site study at Boston Medical Center. She discussed issues related to childhood poverty with state legislators and developed a violence prevention and community outreach newsletter that is still published today. Joyce also worked on global health in Somalia with the Health Poverty Action Initiative and produced short essays and films about Somalia’s health and political situation. 

Walgreens Pharmacy Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award

Two of the eight nominees for the 2018 Walgreens Pharmacy Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award, announced next, had also been nominated for the Community Builder Award.   

The Walgreens Pharmacy Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award recognizes a NEOMED College of Pharmacy student who promotes and supports the needs, values, and respect of underrepresented communities; who is sensitive to the issues of diversity; and who takes actions to promote the ideas of inclusion, equity and community. The 2018 winner was Rachel Neugebauer, a fourth-year pharmacy student.

Neugebauer’s work has included organizing community service activities at the Hartville Migrant Clinic while serving as vice president of the NEOMED Hispanic Community Outreach Group. Neugebauer has volunteered at a charity pharmacy in the Dominican Republic. In  January 2019, she will participate in a Holy Family Honduras Medical Mission as a medical interpreter and pharmacy intern.  

Continuing her advocacy for Latino patients, Neugebauer has chosen areas with large Latino communities for her fourth-year rotations.

All three winners received cash awards.

Where do they find the time?

The following excerpts from their nominations offer a sampling of the work and diverse backgrounds of the students honored at the November event. 

2018 Community Builder Award Nominees

  • Work by winners Carmen Javier, a second-year medicine student, and Katherine Joyce, a fourth-year medicine student, is described above.
  • Clementina Aiyudu, a third-year medicine student, volunteers at a battered women’s shelter. She has also served at a substance dependence treatment center and a human trafficking survivor rehab center.
  • Hannah Johnson, a fourth-year medicine student, has participated in a mission trip to Uganda, where while working at a maternal health clinic she detected the need for a postpartum hemorrhage kit and developed one on her own.
  • Aubree LaForce, a second-year medicine student, has become a strong advocate for rural health and addressing disparities and has spoken to members of Congress as an advocate for a rural policy.
  • Rachel Neugebauer, a fourth-year pharmacy student, was also nominated for the Walgreens Pharmacy Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award, which she won.
  • Christina Palomo, a third-year medicine student, currently volunteers with Proyecto RAICES, a Latinx/Hispanic youth organization that serves children who are often from very poor backgrounds.
  • Valerie Pfaff, a second-year pharmacy student, volunteers at Hattie Larlham Center for Disabled Children and Adults; the Brooks House Senior Living Facility; and Habitat for Humanity, for low-income families. Pfaff was also nominated for the Walgreens Pharmacy Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award.

2018 Walgreens Pharmacy Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award Nominees:

  • Rachel Neugebauer, a fourth-year pharmacy student, was the winner. (See above for description of her work.)
  • Breanna Duff, a third-year pharmacy student, volunteers with Project Linus, which provides crocheted blankets that are donated to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need.
  • Ariel Grant, a third-year pharmacy student was raised as a Baptist Christian, attended a Jewish grade school and a Catholic middle/high school, providing her with an early opportunity to embrace and appreciate diversity.
  • Kaitlyn Latham, a second-year pharmacy student, is committed to helping the needy. She began providing financial assistance to a person in need after discovering they were working two jobs to make ends meet.
  • Julia Livingston, a fourth-year pharmacy student, volunteers at the Pleasant View Health Care Center, where she serves the elderly by reading; organizing sing-alongs and arts and crafts; and transporting residents.
  • Larissa Melnyk, a first-year pharmacy student, hosted 13 exchange students while teaching them about America. She considers all the exchange students that she has hosted as her family members.
  • Ashley Oliver, a first-year pharmacy student, is passionate about social and political issues and works hard to advocate for those who feel they do not have a voice.
  • Valerie Pfaff, second-year pharmacy student, was also nominated for Community Builder Award. See previous description.

All details regarding students’ community service were excerpted from their nominations.

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