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At Second Look Day, presence and intentionality connect students to UMass Chan

Connections and Belonging session highlights diversity and inclusion work at Medical School

At the Inclusive Connections and Belonging session are, left, Mark Johnson, MD, PhD, and four prospective UMass Chan students including Ahnyia Sanders, MS, at right, and her mother, Nicola Pearson.

From April 3 to 5, students accepted to the T.H. Chan School of Medicine Class of 2028 were invited to participate in Second Look Days at UMass Chan Medical School. The event gives accepted medical students an opportunity to gauge what studying at UMass Chan and living in the city of Worcester is like. The event included detailed informational sessions on the MD/PhD program, the new UMass Chan-Lahey track at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, called LEAD@Lahey—for lead, empower, advocate and deliver—and the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health or PURCH track.

For the second year, the Diversity and Inclusion Office hosted the Inclusive Connections and Belonging session. The half-day program was an opportunity for students to learn more about diversity and inclusion at UMass Chan.

The session kicked off with a meet-and-greet mixer at which accepted students could begin making connections with other students and the UMass Chan community. They were welcomed by Marlina Duncan, EdD, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, and offered greetings and words of encouragement from Chancellor Michael F. Collins and Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor, executive deputy chancellor, provost of UMass Chan and dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine. A tour of Worcester followed. The program concluded over dinner where prospective students shared their wants and needs in anticipation of medical school matriculation and learned about campus-wide initiatives led by the Diversity and Inclusion Office.

Accepted UMass Chan student Ahnyia Sanders, MS, a native of Miami, Florida, who is employed as the doula program coordinator at UMass Memorial Medical Center, attended the event with her mother. A trained doula with a love of accompanying women of color as they navigate pregnancy and the postpartum period, Sanders said her desire to increase diversity in medicine and help people propelled her pursuit of medical education.

“Just seeing people in leadership and administration in the room with us was reassuring and showed they cared,” Sanders said of the Inclusive Connections and Belonging session.

“Sometimes people just talk, but to know that the talk comes with action indicates they mean what they say and that’s important.”

Sanders said members of the UMass Chan community have made her feel a sense of belonging and have offered themselves as mentors as she embarks on her medical school journey this fall. She said her coordination of Black Maternal Health Week and the intentionality of the Collaborative in Health Equity in connecting to the community excites her and further solidifies why she chose UMass Chan to study medicine.

“We see the statistics in health disparities and cannot hide from them. The institution is not perfect, but it is trying its best to acknowledge and be a part of the change. I want to be part of that change," Sanders said.