From the Desk of Diversity

Northwestern's Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter

Black History Month

  • Minorities Representation in Alternative Medicine: Or lack thereof.

  • Words to Live By
  • Did You Know?
  • Nominate a Dignity & Respect Champion
  • Random Acts of Kindness (RAK)
  • Links to Explore
  • Days to Remember
  • Topics in Diversity: Lessons from Nepal
  • Community Engagement
  • Past Events
  • Get Involved
  • Learning & Training Opportunities
  • Apply for a Scholarship

Minorities Representation in Alternative Medicine: Or lack thereof.

In the past year, I have had several conversations about minority representation in medicine, especially in alternative medicine. I don’t think there is any debate about the lack of representation of black doctors and healthcare practitioners in communities of color, but in case you were wondering here is a New York Times article that addresses this specific issue. There is an unfortunate disparity in health care that should be addressed in a profound and comprehensive way in order to resolve the unfortunate ratios of quality care received by people of color and underserved populations.

Medical costs are one of the largest aspects of our national debt and there is an epidemic of uninsured patients within communities of color compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. One of the major reasons for the disparity is cost prohibition. This is no more important than in prenatal care. For example, according to the Office of Minority Health, infant mortality rate was 2.2 times higher for blacks than their white counterparts. I believe one major reason for this discrepancy is the fear of impending cost versus incurred debt due to a lack of insurance, sustained by rising medical costs.

Another reason is lack of trust between a doctor and a patient. A patient is more likely to be less open to treatment if they don’t trust their doctor. Johns Hopkins (general summary here) conducted a study that showed a degree of an unconscious racial bias when dealing with minority patients that was then linked to poor communication and less positive medical outcomes. Where I do agree strongly that communities of color should have representative practitioners with whom to identify, there is a great need to diversify the practitioner demographics to strengthen the relationship patients have with their doctors. Furthermore, inclusion of CAM based practices within conventional medical practice is an important step to promote the concept of wellness to reach a broader patient base that may feel underappreciated by the medical establishment as it currently stands.

The other point I want to make is the severe lack of representation of alternative care education in underserved populations and communities of color. When I went to Chinese Medical School, there were three black students in the entire school. It was unfortunate to see the lack of interest in alternative health by minority students going into healthcare professions. I recognize that with the exception of specific cases or outreach, alternative medical programs are under-represented at high school and college career events in my experience. In all of CAM based treatments, there is an overwhelming desire to reach, educate, and serve all people. I believe that many more minority students would be inclined to consider alternative health professionals if the simply knew what options existed. Thus, a more aggressive and diverse recruitment strategy is needed within all populations to apply and attend both complementary and allopathic medical schools to produce a more representative population of health care practitioners.

For all of these reasons, I am leading SABCA, Northwestern’s Student American Black Chiropractic Association chapter. I hope to bring more awareness of these issues to Northwestern and make a difference in health care through advocacy. Please join me in this leadership by contacting me at Thank you.

Thompson S. Minorities Representation in Alternative Medicine: Or lack thereof. June 12, 2015. Accessed February 15, 2016. Reprinted and edited with permission.

Words to Live By

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality...I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another's uniqueness."

– Ola Joseph

"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."

- Booker T. Washington

Did You Know?

Did you know that the American Black Chiropractic Association has documented the history of chiropractic education, professional life, and care in the Black/African American community? You can check out more about that history here.

Nominate a Dignity & Respect Champion

The Dignity & Respect Champions program recognizes those students, faculty, staff and administrators who embody the mission and vision of diversity at Northwestern. Our champions are fully committed to diversity, inclusion, equity and justice throughout our University and the healthcare community. Champions promote a safe, inclusive and supportive environment of diversity at Northwestern, act as active community members in promoting social justice, and take a strong interest in making health care accessible for everyone.

Please take five minutes to nominate your Champion. Thank you.

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK)

We honor folks that get caught doing good deeds!

If you see something, say something.

Please email Megan Spees ( to nominate someone and make their day.

Days to Remember

Here are the upcoming cultural holidays that some of our faculty, staff, and students observe over Winter 2016 trimester.

  • February 2: Imbloc (Pagan) & Groundhog's Day
  • February 8: Parinirvana (Buddhism, or Feb 15); Lunar New Year (Pan Asian)
  • February 12: Vasant Panchami (Hindu), Darwin Day (United States)
  • February 14: Valentine’s Day (United States)
  • February 15: Parinirvana (Buddhism, or Feb 8); President’s Day (United States)

  • March 1: Feast of Loftiness, followed by a 20 day fast (Bahá’í)
  • March 17: St. Patrick’s Day (Christian)
  • March 23-24: Purim (Jewish), Holla Mohalla (Sihk), Holy Thursday (Western Christian)
  • March 25: Good Friday (Christian)
  • March 27: Easter/Pascha (Western Christian, Orthodox Christian)

  • April 15: Day of Silence (LGBTQIA+)
  • April 22: Earth Day (United States)
  • April 22-23: Theravada New Year (Buddhist)
  • April 23-30: Passover (Jewish)

All dates were gathered from the Anti-Defamation League's Calendar.

Check out the Office of Diversity & Inclusion's Cultural Calendar for more information on upcoming holidays or holidays not published here.

Submitted by Alejandra Dashe,

Topics in Diversity: Lessons form Nepal

On Oct 29, 2015, I finished my last midterm and boarded an airplane to Nepal to assist in a trauma healing trip with Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB). AWB trains acupuncturists and lay people alike in community mobilization and disaster relief techniques using the 5-point National Acupuncture Detoxification Association auricular acupuncture protocol (NADA protocol). The NADA protocol is a powerful treatment for trauma as well as addiction. It re-programs the brain to process through the trauma (or addiction) and allows for time to calm all the senses after trauma.

I had been waiting for an opportunity like this to come along well before I started Northwestern’s Oriental medicine program in 2013. This was exactly the kind of work I dreamed of doing. I worked hard to find the resources needed for this trip. Even though I had never been there, Nepal was near and dear to my heart. When the earthquakes hit, I knew I wanted to help in some capacity.

After 2 days of traveling I arrived in Nepal. I met the other 18 participants for breakfast and got right to work that day. In a two week period, we did a half day clinic on all but two days. The first week we stayed in the Kathmandu area treating at already established clinic sites. We treated at a leprosy colony, a battered woman’s shelter/ home for trafficked girls, nursing home facility, and a monastery full of young monks. AWB staff simultaneously held a community healing training with local Nepali people. The second week we went into the mountains and treated isolated villages that lost nearly everything in the series of earthquakes.

I was astounded to see the way the Nepali people worked each day to rebuild their communities without any government assistance, and with such peace and love on their faces. Once the initial shock and devastation was over, the communities worked together to get life back to “normal” as quickly as possible. Through witnessing parts of this process, I was influenced by the graciousness and spiritual resilience of the people I encountered. The spiritual significance that is harnessed in Nepali culture is such a beautiful thing. Symbols and rituals of Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian traditions coexisted everywhere--it was impossible not to be touched. Butter candles were lit all over the street, incense was burning, and chants were playing in the store fronts. One of the doctors we spoke with, Dr. Sherub, told us he started meditating after the first initial quake and during the aftershocks that followed. While his wife was running in a frantic panic, he told us his thought was, “If I am going to die, I want it to be in peace."

Remarkably, the people we treated were full of hope. One clinic recipient told us, “Red Cross gave me water, food and blankets. Acupuncture gave me peace and relief of the stress of all this chaos."

Once we left the city, we were camping and hiking to isolated mountain villages, some of which had never been visited by Western people. One day was particularly physical, where we climbed up the side of a steep mountain for over three hours. I was pushed to my physical and mental limit, and had to focus on each step to continue at times. As soon as we reached our destination, a hoard of children ambushed us with marigolds and greetings. Tears filled my eyes. We walked a pathway that led to an archway made of greenery, and we were blessed with strings of marigolds around our necks. Many of the local villagers were hired to assist carrying our supplies. Watching them carry massive loads of gear in broken sandals while children and elders were praising us for coming to their village was a humbling experience. I could not believe the gratitude.

Every clinic we conducted was like walking into the unknown; we had no idea what kind of space or resources were available for us to use until we showed up. We strapped on our aprons (or fanny pack in my case) and did the best job we could. We made one pocket for clean materials and one for “dirty” materials. We carried a small trash bag and sharps shuttle. We also had an amazing Nepali team to work with, and the team did a great job of bringing awareness and educating people for our clinics each day.

In total, we successfully conducted 12 clinics in 14 days, treating around 1,300 people using the NADA protocol. It was also particularly useful in Nepal and other places where an acupuncturist might encounter a language barrier. We had a few translators with us. At the start of each clinic, we performed a demonstration and explanation so that participants knew what to expect. Efficiently, we were able to treat with ear seeds and create a supportive, caring environment.

The AWB Office based in Nepal was established in 2009 and has provided many trainings on the NADA protocol. Health care workers are trained to use local mustard seed plants to create ear seeds for trauma patients, and are also instructed on how to use this method for treating mental health conditions and addictions. We heard several stories of local Nepali people implementing these practices and partnering with clinics set up by AWB-Nepal. Since the earthquake, the participants of past AWB trainings have mobilized their communities and treated over 20,000 people all together.

My time in Nepal with AWB was a humbling and extremely memorable experience, especially to be part of this disaster recovery process. The appreciation, ingenuity, and beauty I have seen in the Nepali people has touched my life forever, as well as all the lessons I learned, and those I will continue to learn through this experience.

You can read more about this experience on the website.

Submitted by Lanna Schwab, T7/8 Acupuncture Student,

Community Engagement

Northwestern's Women's Leadership group meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 12-1 in the Fetzer. Please feel welcome to bring your lunch and be ready to discuss. RSVP to Alejandra Dashe ( or Michele Maiers (

Interested in forming a leadership group? The Office of Diversity & Inclusion is happy to assist. Start organizing your group today - contact Alejandra Dashe ( for assistance.

Are you engaged in health related research and a minority in your field? Visit PRIDE to attend summer week long research seminars to boost your presence and skill set in your field. All are encouraged to apply for cohorts forming in Summer 2016.

Join us at Northwestern's Lunar New Year Celebration: The Year of the Fire Monkey. Held on Saturday, February 27, 11am-2pm, free food, entertainment, family friendly activities, and learning! More information on our website and Facebook, or contact

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Join the NWHSU Polar Plunge Team!

The polar plunge presented by Minnesota law-enforcement is a unique opportunity for individuals organizations or businesses alike to support thousands of Minnesota Special Olympic athletes by jumping into frigid Minnesota waters. It's a great way for everyone to get involved in supporting S.O.-MN. All funds raised to go towards programming and events for more than 8,100 athletes statewide.

Think you have what it takes? The concept is simple, participants raise a minimum of $75 and take a dip into Lake Calhoun. Think you have what it takes?

Who: NWHSU Students, Staff, family and friends

What: The Minneapolis Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics of MN

Where: Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis

When: March, 5th

Why: To support a great organization, and local athletes, all while having a blast and gaining a great story to tell!

How: If interested please contact Bobby Dorn at for more information!

If you would like to support our team, without having to get cold and wet, donations can be made here:

Love Your Melon is an apparel brand led by college students who want to make a difference in the lives of kids battling cancer. Students at St. Thomas University started the concept in 2012 and it is now a national phenomenon. The mission is to give a hat to every child battling cancer in America as well as direct benefit for families and cancer research. The proceeds are divided up to where 25% goes to CureSearch for Children's Cancer to fund research initiative. Another 25% of the proceeds go to the Pinky Swear Foundation to provide immediate support to children battling cancer and their families by paying home mortgages, giving gas cards, and funding therapeutic programs in the hospital. Products are released online and we will be making direct sales on campus as well. Contact Jessica Keesling at for more information.

Volunteer Connection is a program here in Bloomington that allows students to get involved with their surrounding community through volunteering as a tutor! This specific program for tutors is called homework connection. There are many different times and places that volunteering can be done and it is widely available to anyone to tutor any subject from K-12.

The girls group Courtney Bernard put together is at Washburn Elementary School where she works with 3rd grade girls and their teacher, Serena Christensen. She goes there to volunteer with them every other Thursday for an hour to talk about women's issues and how to deal with them and make it easier to talk about. She recently started an anti-bullying campaign, where they are going to be making posters and t-shirts to raise awareness about the issue of bullying.

Contact for more information about volunteering at Washburn Elementary School.

Past Events

Science Fusion: Asian Americans in Science, Science Museum of Minnesota

Northwestern hosted an educational table at Science Fusion: Asian Americans in Science at the Science Museum of Minnesota. This is an event in a series of four that reach out to communities that are typically underrpresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Naturally, Northwestern has hosted a table at this event for the last four years.

Volunteers Lanna Schwab, Camille Pascoe, Jasmine Hanson, and Alejandra Dashe talked with museum patrons about our experiences with STEM education at Northwestern. Museum officials tell us about 4000-6000 people pass through the museum on the Science Fusion event days. We hope that our conversations about STEM education at Northwestern contributed the positive energy felt throughout the day.

Thank you for your continuing support of these important outreach events.

Sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Admissions, & Marketing/Institutional Advancement

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Get Involved with Diversity & Inclusion

  • Take training! See "Learning and Training Opportunities" below. Most trainings are free or low cost and can get you CEUs.
  • Take the Dignity & Respect pledge.
  • Join one of our cultural clubs.
  • Want to write for From the Desk of Diversity? Book Club book suggestion? Engaging diversity activity idea? Contact Dr. Dashe, Beau Foshee, or Celia Peters.
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Office of Diversity & Inclusion

The purpose of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is to create a richer understanding of humanity, education and health care. Our responsibility to Northwestern is to ensure that we have an inclusive, diverse and safe environment for all members of the University community and communities we serve.

Alejandra Estrin Dashe, PhD

Senior Editor, From the Desk of Diversity
Director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Assistant Professor & Chair, Social Science & Humanities, College of Health & Wellness

Celia Peters

Editor, From the Desk of Diversity
Student, College of Chiropractic
Diversity Scholar

Beau Foshee

Assistant Editor, From the Desk of Diversity

Student, College of Chiropractic
Diversity Leadership Scholar
Student Senate President

Brittany Caffey

Assistant Editor, From the Desk of Diversity

Student, Massage Therapy, College of Health & Wellness

Diversity Scholar