Creighton Conversations: Inspiring STEM Initiatives Earn Creighton Diversity Award

Inspiring STEM Initiatives Earn Creighton Diversity Award

Creighton’s Department of Health Sciences-Multicultural and Community Affairs (HS-MACA), which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2020, was named an inspiring program in STEM by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

The award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Creighton, along with 49 other recipients, was featured in the September 2019 issue of the magazine.

Honorees were selected based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research and successful programs and initiatives.

HS-MACA is led by Sade Kosoko-Lasaki, MD, associate vice provost of health sciences and professor of surgery (ophthalmology). Creighton magazine asked her to explain the mission of her department and to explain the significance of the award from INSIGHT Into Diversity.

What is HS-MACA?

The Department of Health Sciences-Multicultural and Community Affairs was created in 2000 to advance and promote diversity in the health sciences schools and in the University. The department has developed many relationships with the community, which have yielded a growing and positive relationship with North and South Omaha, and we have been rewarded with significant grant money to perform preventive work related to improving health outcomes among minority populations.

How did this award come to be conferred?

We had an opportunity to apply, which required us to meet stringent criteria regarding inclusiveness. We had to demonstrate that the University maintains a lot of STEM programs — science, technology, engineering and math — to promote diversity in the field. The literature is very clear that, nationally, the United States does not have a lot of underrepresented minorities in the STEM field. Creighton University is now one of the very few institutions recognized as having a STEM program that actively attracts minorities.

What is the significance of the award?

This is a very significant award. Creighton University has prided itself as being consistently recognized in national publications, such as U.S. News & World Report and more recently the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. Creighton has now clearly demonstrated that not only is it good in academics, but it is also good at attracting minorities into the STEM field. This award sends a message to underrepresented populations across the nation that Creighton University, which draws 80% of its students from outside Nebraska, welcomes minorities. The magazine states it clearly: “This award is presented to institutions whose programs inspire a new generation of young people to consider STEM careers as well as support working professionals in the field.” Further, the award recognizes “colleges, universities and organizations that are doing their part to improve access to STEM fields for students from underrepresented groups.”

What does the award mean for Creighton graduates?

It means they will be noticed when employers search through numerous applicants for jobs. When someone says, “I’m from Creighton, and I’ve gone through some of the STEM programs at Creighton,” the employer will recognize the name, will know the caliber of our programs, and will give the Creighton applicant a second look. Corporations and employers looking to diversify their workforces — and they all are these days — are in close contact with INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, so if they ask the magazine for recommendations, Creighton is now in the mix.