HOUSTON – The UTHealth School of Public Health Student Association held its ninth annual Diversity Fair on Oct. 20 at UTHealth’s Cooley University Life Center. This year’s event was a vibrant celebration of cultures for students, faculty and staff themed, “There is more to me than what you see.”
“The fair allows the UTHealth community to rejoice in its diversity and increase cultural awareness within the community through performances, exhibits and cuisine,” says Susan Tortolero Emery, Ph.D., senior associate dean of academic and research affairs at UTHealth School of Public Health. “The School of Public Health boasts a student body comprised of citizens from 49 countries on six of the seven continents.”
Diversity Fair is a tremendously popular event and was attended by 250 people this year. This year’s head event planner, Ashwini Joshi (M.P.H. candidate, 2018, epidemiology), speaks about why it is important.
“Diversity Fair is one of the greatest events at SPH showcasing diversity, which is not just about cultures, races, ethnicities, languages and countries, but goes beyond that,” says Joshi. “Our different backgrounds, skills, attitudes and experiences are what make us truly unique and diverse in our own ways. I feel that diversity is the one thing that we all have in common and we should celebrate it every day!”
Joshi is also associate director of the School of Public Health Student Association. Joining her in planning the event were numerous officers from the association, including executive director, Angela Frazier (M.P.H. candidate, 2018, community health practice). The students formed committees for booths, performances, food, finance, advertising and communication.
“Together we are a group of students, faculty, family and friends that differ in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities (both visible and invisible), religious beliefs, political opinions and so much more,” says Frazier. “With each of these differences brings so much beauty. Our theme this year was ‘There is more to me than what you see’ and with this theme, we were truly able to celebrate just how diverse our community is.”
Six booths represented five countries:
- and one U.S. region – Pacific Northwest.
Twenty booths represented the following organizations:
- Friends for Life animal rescue organization;
- Gay-Straight Alliance;
- Houston Community College;
- McGovern Medical School at UTHealth;
- MD Anderson Cancer Center and UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences;
- Prairie View A&M University;
- Safety, First Aid and Selfies with “Safety Bob” Emery;
- Society for Women and Leadership;
- Student Epidemic Intelligence Society;
- Society for Health Equity;
- Student Society for Global Health;
- The Board;
- University of Houston;
- UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics;
- UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston;
- UTHealth School of Nursing;
- UTHealth School of Public Health Student Association;
- UTHealth School of Public Health’s San Antonio Student Association;
- and UTHealth Student Inter-Council.
In addition to celebrating culture, the fair featured foods from many countries, and six performances (see list at the end) representing the global talent of the school’s student body.
Support for Diversity Fair was provided by UTHealth School of Public Health Office of the Dean, UTHealth Student InterCouncil, McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Office of Diversity and Inclusion and faculty members from the School of Public Health.
Diversity Fair was first envisioned by former School of Public Health Student Association president, and now alumna, Preeti Zanwar, a 2012 graduate who earned a Ph.D. in management and policy sciences at the school. The inaugural Diversity Fair took place in 2009. That year, the lobbies, auditorium, common room and first floor classrooms at the school’s Reuel A. Stallones Building in Houston sparkled with lights, colorful fabrics, lively sounds of musical instruments and colors of the diverse cultural attire. The event, which has been continually hosted by the School of Public Health Student Association, was and remains open to all Texas Medical Center students, faculty and staff.
2017 Diversity Fair performances included:
- Introductions: Brandon Carter, M.P.H., alumnus; Angela Frazier, and Ashwini Joshi
- Lowell Levo – musical theatre dance (Broadway inspired)
- Mahveesh Chowdhary – Bangladesh song
- Nimit Bajaj – Bollywood song
- Fatima Frausto – spoken word
- Nigerian group presentation (Joel Adekanye, Damilola Adeokun, Ruth Akinlosotu, Nsikak Jackson and family, Tolulope Fadipe, Ruth Amaku, Osundare Ifeoluwa, Nwabunie Nwanna, Inimfon Jackson, Toluwanimi Babarinde)
- Bollywood dance (Palak Jalan, Sayali Tungare, Ashwini Joshi, Mahveesh Chowdhury, Aleisha Elliott, Prasida Mandapati, Heera Govindarajan, Andrea Suresh, Tanaya Deshpande)
Food and beverages were provided by:
- Bombay Pizza Co.
- Biryani Pot
- Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant
- Fajita Petes
- Niko Nikos
- Khun Kay Thai
- Tiff’s Treats
- St Arnold’s Brewery
Photos of Diversity Fair 2017 are available to view on the school’s Flickr page here.
—Written by Shannon LaDuke