November 3, 2008

MY recent Diversity experiences at and away from Mayo Clinic (SACNAS conference, a Diversity Social, and the 2008 NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet)




SACNAS Mayo Clinic

SACNAS Mayo Clinic

Well it seems that there isn’t much diversity going on at Mayo Clinic…however there actually is, if you look for it of course! I don’t only mean Diversity by the people you hang around with or the food you may eat (unfortunately Rochester doesn’t have much of this), I mean by the activities that are available for you to participate in. From my stand point this last month I actually have participated in three. Now this is actually pretty good because lately it’s getting pretty cold in Rochester and like I tell everyone, “This little Texas girl goes into hibernation once I feel a slight breeze!” This past October I attended the SACNAS conference, a Diversity Social, and the 2008 NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet.

                       A couple of weeks ago, I was in the mountainous Salt Lake City, Utah. Now if I talked about my experiences in the city (outside of the conference), this would be totally an entire story in itself. I think I learned soo much simply by going to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner and meeting people as I walked downtown. I will leave it by saying the city itself was very nice and eye opening. Anyhow, I attended the SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, conference to help Mayo Clinic recruit undergraduates into their educational programs, whether this is SURF program, IMSD program, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Graduate or Medical Schools, or their Health Sciences School ( I attended this conference as a former SURF member, a current IMSD member, and a third year graduate student. This pretty much fills many of the schools we were recruiting for. I was at first not really sure of what to expect, since I have previously attended huge conferences like American Association for Cancer Research which are very broad, but was pretty surprised at what I saw when I got there. This conference is geared toward educating and promoting minorities in science. This does not only mean students it also includes faculty, teachers, mentors, and the community.  All in all my experiences with the leadership and mentors as well as vendors around me was quite liberating. It seems everyone there wanted to be a helping hand. They had a push pin board which mentors would put their information with their interest and mentees could put up their current interest, then anyone could simply pull off this little sheet of paper and call them up or email that person. Now if this isn’t an extraordinary way to network I don’t know what is. They also had some very nice seminars about the research in Native American Communities, miRNAs (my field), math, physics, and entertainment with us being able to participate in a Ceremonial Pow Wow. This is quite exciting if you have never been able to experience one of this.

               I also attended a Diversity Social led by the Diversity Group here at Mayo Rochester. This was a very nice informal dinner at one’s personal home to network and socialize. The people who attended ranged from graduate students, medical students, scientist, physicians, and of course our very well known Mayo diversity leadership friends….you know who you areJ. Everyone was able to meet and greet each other and talk about research, medicine, and where we are heading. I believe little groups like this are very important as a way to find out who people are and what they are doing and how you can help them or they can help you. One piece of advice I would give any student is to learn how to talk and communicate with fellow researchers or physicians because this is a very important aspect of your career. (You never know who you will meet!!)

Finally, but with the same importance as the other activities, is the 2008 NAACP Freedom Fund banquet ( Now I personally have never attended this event before and can’t believe I hadn’t! Mayo Clinic every year buys seats (pricey!) for Mayo Clinic employees to join in this banquet. The IMSD program invited all of their students to attend and participate. I simply could not pass up this offer. This year’s theme was, “NAACP: Power, Justice, Freedom, VOTE!” This year’s guest speaker was the strong and intelligent Ms. Mavis Thompson, President Elect of the National Bar Association. Now to be honest I had never heard of Ms. Thompson, not surprising since I know nothing about Law or should I say steer away from anything Law. Anyhow, she surely caught my attention when stood up and spoke to us about the Power we hold in our hands, and how we need to believe in the Justice system, and how we need to go Vote, with her very strong and passionate voice. Now I know today is election day (Nov. 4,2008) and there are many people at the poles today…..cross my fingers XX….who are participating in our freedom to vote. I just hope you vote for your next president of choice knowing what will be good for you and our future children. I do have to say that this years elections are very controversial and it’s hard to talk about with people sometimes (since there will always be a blue and red party fighting against each other). Personally, I am glad they will be over today and can’t wait to stop hearing campaign ads and finally listen to my country music once again! Anyhow, the banquet was a success with many interesting people giving talks and enjoying nice music and of course a nice dinner.

 All in all, these events were enlightening and encouraging. I was able to see that there are people out there who are taking notice of minorities (or diversified) students who are willing to give a helping hand to allow our success. There are also many activities here at Mayo Clinic Rochester that allows you to network, socialize, and broaden your knowledge. I will simply leave you with a question……..Do you think Mayo Clinic is diversified? Or do think there are enough diverse activities going on in Rochester, MN?  I know some who will say of course as long as you look for them and some who will laugh in my face and ask, "WHERE ARE YOU FROM AGAIN……?"     Pancho and I    


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