WSU Applebaum Pathologists’ Assistant student attends 19th annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference

By Shuriah Harris

Shuriah Harris
First-year PAA student Shuriah Harris

On Oct. 20, I attended the 19th annual Images and Perceptions Diversity Conference in Dearborn as a representative of the WSU Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Pathologists’ Assistant program. As a first-year student and vice president of the PAA Diversity Initiative, I wanted to explore additional ways of thinking and discover what others perceive as pertinent topics affecting diversity in today’s society.

The conference featured multiple panels of diverse leaders from across all industries — private and public, local and national — who discussed topics ranging from Education and the Impact of COVID to Law Enforcement and Trust Building. These conversations were enlightening and helped me to re-evaluate my own judgments and misconceptions.

Key issues that stemmed from the conference included heightened awareness of mental health issues and depression since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, it is essential to acknowledge how various cultures address mental health issues differently. Another key point is that everyone has implicit biases; often, our perceptions are our realities. Finally, perhaps the most poignant topics that stuck with me are how equality does not equal equity, and that even if we operate in diverse communities, those communities can remain segregated.

Diversity conference panel of speakers on stage
Through several panels featuring experts from a range of fields, the Images and Perceptions Diversity conference aimed to empower communities by embracing inclusion.

 So how do we better effect change to create inclusive environments that allow everyone to feel accepted? Imagine walking into a ballroom with a diverse group of people, but you sit at a table of individuals who look the same as you. Technically, you are within a diverse group; however, inclusion is lacking. Therefore, the onus is on each of us to sit with someone who looks different from us. Perhaps we choose to sit with someone who rolled into the room in a wheelchair or with someone who entered the room via the back door instead of the front door (which shows diversity in thinking). With these perspectives, I am happy to work alongside PAA Diversity Initiative President Samantha Matthews to create programming that will help inform, encourage and empower our cohorts.

Established in 1989, the WSU Applebaum Master of Science in Pathologists' Assistant program is one of only 13 in the United States and Canada accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) to train students in the highly specialized field of anatomic pathology. Information meetings for prospective students take place at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month.

An anchor in urban health care

The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels – from undergraduates to veteran faculty members – translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 25,000 students.

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