Other events during the 2018 Celebration of Diversity included a talk from Mona Fouad, M.D., M.P.H., director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, in conjunction with the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions’ Research Day, as well as a talk on stigma and culture’s contributions to mental health disparities from Michelle Jacobs-Elliott, M.D., and Andres Pumariega, M.D., of the UF department of psychiatry.
The week wrapped up on Saturday with the annual Office for Diversity and Health Equity Emerald Ball, an event established 15 years ago by UF medical students to provide accepted minority students with an opportunity to learn more about the college in an effort to encourage their enrollment.
Good began the program, welcoming the college’s potential students and others, including keynote speaker Oluwaferanmi Okanlami, M.D., an assistant professor of family medicine with a joint appointment in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Okanlami congratulated Good and the UF College of Medicine for maintaining a dialogue about the value of diversity.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion is important because all of us bring experiences — our trials and tribulations — to the table,” said Okanlami, who was born in Nigeria before immigrating to the U.S. as a child. “By sharing our stories and our perspectives, we can move forward much stronger and find solutions to the problems that impact all of us.”
Okanlami, a captain of his track and field team at Stanford University and an Academic All-American, attended medical school at the University of Michigan. At the beginning of his third year of residency in orthopaedic surgery at Yale University, he suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the chest down.
After two surgeries and intense rehabilitation, he regained some motor function. He went on to earn a master’s degree in engineering, science and technology from the University of Notre Dame and completed a family medicine residency at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana.
“Too often we judge people on what they cannot do before we give them an opportunity to show us what they can do,” Okanlami said. “I have a catch phrase: ‘disabusing disability’ with the hope to demonstrate that being disabled does not mean one is un-abled. Every voice has a place, and your ideas and thoughts are valid.”
With the week coming to a close, Good said the annual Celebration of Diversity is meant to “renew our commitment to diversity and inclusion and to cultivating a physician and health professions workforce that resembles the makeup of our local, state and national communities.”