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Tell me a bit about your current role at UCSF.
My role is running the operations of the Office of Diversity and Outreach at UCSF – making sure that we have the resources, people, space, and budget to do the important work we have committed to. I am also tasked with strategically thinking about what we should be discussing as a campus, who should be involved, and what types of conversations we should try to advance, as it pertains to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The opportunity to make a difference excites me the most about my job. In a way, I am involved in expanding the conversation about diversity, which can sometimes be reduced to window dressing. Diversity and health equity are intertwined, and we are constantly looking across the full enterprise of medicine to ensure it is not a one-time event, because it truly impacts everything we do at UCSF.
October is Diversity Month! What projects have you worked on as a Dean’s Diversity Leader in the Differences Matter program?
I am a co-lead, helping to oversee the work done in the area of education. We are looking at the current curriculum and where there are gaps in terms of including topics and issues of racial disparities into what the students are taught. We have inventoried our curriculum, reviewed what we have added over time, and assessed how it has changed the educational experience of our learners.
What is your hope for the future of UCSF, as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
I think representation is so important. Having a workforce that resembles the state of California is the end goal. It is also about retention and making people feel included once they are recruited to UCSF.
I think we do well on large-scale events. For instance, a lot happens on campus during Diversity Month. Where we could have more impact is at the local level. We know from analyzing departmental data that engagement varies, so targeting our efforts on improving the climate for African American and Latino employees in departments that are struggling, would be a win.
What is your personal commitment to advancing this goal?
This has been part of my story of finding my place in the U.S. as an immigrant. I co-founded the Chicano Latino Campus Association (CLCA) so that I can help others. I have written a book on undocumented immigrants and I bring that experience and knowledge to students at UCSF. I know the challenges they face when applying to school and continuing their studies, and I hope to assist them in advancing their educational and professional journey at UCSF.
What are some resources students, faculty and staff can take advantage of to learn more about DEI efforts at UCSF and/or become allies?
Our website has improved greatly over the last few years. We pull events that occur across campus and at different sites, and it is updated on a daily basis. I hope it serves as a great source of information for students, faculty, and staff. We use it as a place to highlight faculty of color, and our students and staff for their contributions to the university. We also have a dynamic annual report and are working on improving the use of data.
Thank you, Alejandra!
- interviewed by Lesley Snyder