New National Chapter on Campus for Students of Color to Feel Supported and Involved within the Community
Medical students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix have a new student organization on campus that will promote health issues relating to the African-American community and also advocate for medical students of color.
More than 150 Student National Medical Association (SNMA) chapters are based at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools throughout the nation. They are designed to serve the health needs of underserved communities and communities of color.
Second-year medical students Agnes Ewongwo, Dario Alvarez and Ogaga Ojameruaye started the conversation about creating an African-American student interest group as Pathway Scholars students nearly two years ago. They saw other interest groups on campus for Latino medical students, as well as Catholic and Jewish students, but there were no chapters oriented toward African-American students. The two worked with third-years Brandon Ford and Luce Kassi to create an official chapter on the College of Medicine – Phoenix campus.
“This chapter promotes diversity on our campus,” Ewongwo said. “Bringing SNMA on campus is a step in the right direction to let students know that they are represented; they are welcomed here; and there is a chapter that is here to cater to their needs, but also help them excel in medical school.”
The staff advisor for the SNMA chapter is Sonji Muhammad, the assistant director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the College.
“I have been involved with Agnes, Dario, Ogaga, Brandon and Luce, since the formation of Black Students in Medicine,” Muhammad said. “It’s good to see the results of their hard work, especially for Agnes, Dario and Ogaga coming in as Pathway Students and making an impact. I believe this speaks to their strong sense of community and ensuring our campus continues to be an inclusive campus.”
Muhammad added that part of SNMA’s mission is to focus on the needs and concerns of medical students of color, and that it’s important for our students to have additional resources and support as they go through their medical education.
“The founding of the SNMA chapter is an example of inclusive excellence in action at the College,” said Francisco Lucio, JD, associate dean of Diversity and Inclusion. “Our students are empowered, with the support and guidance from our faculty and staff, to advance diversity and inclusion in very intentional ways. We’ve taken a step to be more inclusive with the addition of the SNMA chapter.”
“It’s important to join this chapter, especially if you identify as black, but even if you don’t. If you have a strong passion for advocating for the needs, health disparities and issues that are pertinent to black patients and the black community in general, then SNMA is for you,” Ewongwo said.
While the focus of Student National Medical Association is on the needs of medical students of color, anyone is welcome to join. Because the organization is committed to the community, its service to humanity transcends ethnic lines.