September 23rd, 2016

Let’s MERG into Mayo

By Domenic Fraboni

By: Domenic Fraboni

What does it mean to MERG? Does it mean to change lanes when you’re driving on a busy highway? Maybe you can find a place where two trickling streams MERG together into a large flowing river? I would say that this last example is getting closer, figuratively, to the meaning of MERG that I am thinking of. At Mayo Clinic, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) has coined the term MERG, or Mayo “Employee” Resource Group (I put quotes around employee because these groups are, in fact, not only for employees), to refer to any of the more than 20 employee-run groups centered around various facets of diversity. In this post, I implore all Mayo graduate and postgraduate students to get involved in a MERG. Anna Krauss, New York student who participated in Mayo Graduate School's SURF (Summer Undergraudate Research Fellowship) program, once said, “Do I want to be comfortable, or do I want to be awesome?” I’m going to try convincing you how MERG participation can tip you toward the awesome end of the scale.

Prior to 2013, many of the now-MERGs operated as employee networking groups. In 2013 under the direction of ODI, the groups chartered and aligned their efforts to the ODI vision and goals. Today, there are a plethora of MERGs available on the three main Mayo campuses (18 in RST, 4 in FL, and 6 in ARZ — with some MERGs present in multiple locations). MERGs range in affinity, including LGBTI, ethnic and cultural, disability, and veterans groups. MERGs are designed to engage Mayo Clinic employees and build on existing strengths and expertise to promote diversity and inclusion. MERGs provide opportunities for employees to collaborate around diversity issues of interest, promote organizational values and foster an environment that advances inclusiveness and employee participation. MERG membership is voluntary and all groups are open to all students.

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MERG participation involves an active contribution to the goals and strategies of the chosen MERG. MERGs engage in a range of activities, each designed to build awareness of and support for issues related to diversity and inclusion. MERGs commonly engage in activities related to celebrating diversity and inclusion, the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce, mentoring and networking with other employees committed to diversity and inclusion, and supporting the goals of Mayo Clinic and ODI.

So why should you join a MERG? Some appreciate a greater sense of belonging at Mayo. Others seek opportunities to contribute their unique skills. Maybe you are a student coming from out of town and you practice Islam.  Where can you go to find the nearest mosque?  How about a grocery that may be able to meet your nutritional needs?  I daresay that the Arab Heritage MERG would be a good place to start.

Jennifer Ingram, ODI Program Director, helped me realize another invaluable benefit of MERGs to student members:  They provide opportunities for students, especially those in minority groups, to uncover mentors in fields that may seem void of someone who understands specific cultural nuances. Jennifer said the difference between a mentor and an adviser is the strength of the relationship and shared interests. Mentors are aware of your goals and can guide you. Mentors are individuals who have achieved what you want to achieve and who share their experiences to help you achieve your goals more quickly and with less friction. Those still searching for an effective mentor should not hesitate to look into a MERG. MERGs also provide opportunities to develop leadership skills and gain visibility while shaping programming that creates a more inclusive work environment. For example, you could work on a subcommittee as a membership coordinator and  recruit other classmates and peers to participate.

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In all, MERGs are meant to enhance the employment experience and create a sense of community at Mayo. MERG participation could potentially aid students across Mayo’s graduate schools to broaden the scope of their education (aka pre-employment).  We cannot overplay the value these groups can provide to our young professionals and pre-professionals.  MERGs support Mayo Clinic’s and ODI’s goal to improve inclusiveness and the participation of diverse employees at all levels of the organization. With this continued education and exposure, we can beyond a doubt help thousands of trickling streams (representing all those employees and students within the Mayo system) combine into a powerful river that will emerge as a thoughtful and informed delta into the ocean that represents our field and the world as a whole.

MERG Highlight: eMERGing Leaders

 

The eMERGing Leaders MERG is one of the newer that has come onto the scene. eMERGing Leaders’ mission is to help develop aspiring leaders across Mayo Clinic in their technical and leadership skills and connect them to each other, Mayo Clinic, and the Rochester community. This group is composed of more than 200 members from all levels and areas within Mayo. Although eMERGing Leaders is open to anyone, most members are millennials (loosely, those who were born from from the 1980s through the mid-2000s). Hmmm, this seems like it may be the perfect MERG for those students looking for leadership opportunities or looking to develop their leadership skills (hint, hint). The group’s latest quarterly general membership meeting was last Friday, so you’ve unfortunately missed their most recent gathering. However, this does not mean involvement must wait until the next quarterly meeting rolls around! Events being held by eMERGing Leaders that are coming up include Kutzky Park Porchfest, eMERGing Leaders Family Fall Funtime!, and the Civic Day League Day Nursery Clean Up. Below are some of the other events coming up in Rochester that eMERGing Leaders will participate in:

One of the places where the rubber really hits the pavement is in eMERGing Leaders’ committees. Any student is welcome to join committee meetings and get involved. Here are the committees (click the link for meeting and contact information):

For more information, please email rstemergingleaders@mayo.edu. Enter your info Don’t squander this opportunity to become a more effective and efficient leader.

Author Bio: Domenic is a second-year DPT student in the Mayo School of Health Sciences. This is his second year as a student blog manager for the Diversity in Education Blog. He is a lover of everything active, avid promoter and coach of Special Olympics, player and listener of many types of music, and embracer of anything new and different.

Aknowledgements: Thanks to Jen Ingram and Ethan Grove from ODI for their input and edits on this post. Also, I need to give a big thanks to Jordan Coffey from eMERGing Leaders’ communications. My final thanks goes out to eMERGing Leaders as a whole, and more specifically Cyd Smith for inviting me, for letting me sit in on their quarterly membership meeting to ask questions and learn more about their group. Always looking for more invites!

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