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University of Nebraska Medical Center

Members & Faculty Advisory Group

DIVERSE Taskforce Members

Carmen Ochoa, M2

"I am Carmen Ochoa, I am from Omaha and attend UNMC for Medical School. I am the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion chair for the class of 2024 and participate in the Aging and Integrated Medicine EMET track. I joined the DIVERSE taskforce because I am passionate about improving the diversity of leaders at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine, and that starts with students and residents. I want our leaders to reflect the diversity of patients that we serve. When we have the opportunity to work with people of a variety of backgrounds, we are all better for it!"

Carmen Ochoa
Dr. Debra Wekesa, House Officer I

"I joined the DIVERSE Taskforce because I want all people in our UNMC residency and UNMC community to know they belong here. I think we all have a responsibility to work toward this goal and I see this taskforce as the perfect avenue to do that."

Ikponmwosa (IK) Igbinigie, M3

"I am originally from Nigeria, came here when I was 11 years old and lived in Omaha ever since. Before coming to this country, diversity was not something I ever had a concept of, primarily because everybody looked like me. It was something I have had to learn as I transitioned to a new society. The importance of diversity didn't really start to weigh heavily on me until junior year of college when I was often just one of two Black students in my upper-level premed courses. Simple to say the egregiousness has only become more apparent since coming to med school. The more time passes, the more motivated I seem to become about the issue of diversity. I'm currently a part of GRADS and WC4BL and not too long ago learned about the DIVERSE Taskforce. Throughout my 3rd year I have been previewed to the level of diversity in our healthcare team, I felt there was growth to be had, and I hope to help in any way I possibly can."

IK Igbinigie
Rajan Mediratta, M2

"I joined the DIVERSE taskforce, because I wanted to work alongside colleagues challenging systemic and societal factors that impact the accessibility and quality of medical care. My passions to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion across the UNMC community are greatly fostered by the objectives and goals of the DIVERSE Taskforce."

Rajan Mediratta
Dr. Jen Luedders, Ambulatory Chief Resident

"I joined the DIVERSE Taskforce because I want all people in our UNMC residency and UNMC community to know they belong here. I think we all have a responsibility to work toward this goal and I see this taskforce as the perfect avenue to do that."

Jen Luedders
Dr. Tomoki Sempokuya, GI Fellow, House Officer VI

"I joined the DIVERSE Taskforce because I believe it is critical to incorporate appropriate diversity and inclusion at our institution. I completed my Internal Medicine residency at one of the most diverse residency programs, and I thought I could contribute to the task force. Besides, I am interested in addressing healthcare disparities through database studies, and am hoping to reduce the disparities in the future."

Tomoki Sempokuya
Dr. Noel Bruner, House Officer II

"I joined the DIVERSE taskforce to ensure all those in healthcare, both providers and patients, feel like they belong. Throughout my time in medicine it is quite apparent the impact healthcare disparities have. I think we all have a role in improving diversity, equity, and inclusion for all. "

Noel Bruner
Eshan Sood, M2

"I was interested in joining the members of the DIVERSE Taskforce because I wanted to be part of group that worked toward diversifying our staff and future generations of physicians here on UNMC’s campus. I believe that as medical providers, we should be open to working and learning with people from various backgrounds to not only increase our own social awareness but also provide a reflection of the community that we are working in. By creating a diverse community here, we will be better able to serve our patients while also working to reduce inequities that exist in medicine."

Eshan Sood
Dr. Natasha Gallett, Med-Peds House Officer II

"My passion for medicine started with focusing on rural and underserved health, specifically partnering with refuguee, immigrant, and LGBTQIA populations. The taskforce addresses underlying issues to better the health for our communities so I knew I had to join."

Natasha Gallett
Dr. Rees Adomako, House Officer II

"I believe providing extraordinary care begins with understanding social determinants of heath in our community and providing actionable solutions. I joined the DIVERSE task force to help identify the everyday barriers to health and how to best deliver solutions to the underserved in Omaha."

Rees Adomako
Dr. Nicolás Cortés-Penfield, Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases

"I joined the DIVERSE taskforce because I want UNMC and its Internal Medicine residency program to become their best versions, and I think that improving our diversity is a necessary component of that goal. Educational opportunities and the health and safety that financial security afford are not equally distributed across race, gender, or other axes of marginalization in this country; however, human talent is. If we can name and bring our biases to heel, choose to seek out the most talented of our young colleagues, then we can build a program that is the envy of the nation."

Nico Cortes-Penfield
Dr. Steven Ebers, Hospitalist and Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine - Pediatrics

"I joined this taskforce because of the clear importance of diversity in providing the best possible care to our patients, along with the value that diversity in medicine contributes to society more broadly.  I also believe that change in this area does not happen passively, and that it is all of our responsibility to contribute towards this goal."

Steve Ebers
Dr. Arthur Kornitsky, Assistant Professor, Division of Hospital Internal Medicine

"As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am excited to be part of this task force and am honored to assist with creating a welcoming environment for internal medicine residents from diverse backgrounds. I hope that we could work toward cultivating the development of future generations of doctors that aim to serve diverse communities. I am originally from New York, I trained at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, and did my residency training in IM in Baltimore, and one of my passions in medicine is teaching about LGBTQ+ healthcare."

Kalika Mahato, M3

"When patients are treated by physicians from the same background as them, this can foster trust and lead to better patient satisfaction. Additionally, diversity in administration and health policy is crucial for health equity initiatives and research efforts that benefit marginalized communities. I joined the task force because I hope to increase diversity at UNMC amongst residents and medical students, and I want to improve cultural competency education."

Kalika Mahato
Dr. Chelsea Navarrette, Assistant Professor, Division of Hospital Internal Medicine

"As the first generation in my family to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and pursue a professional career, I can relate to the challenges that are faced by students with economic disparities. I did’t have health care workers in my family for mentorship or advice. My first majors in college were elementary education and social work because I did not think medicine was an obtainable career for me. Talent, intellect, humanism, and empathy cross all racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic boundaries, but sometimes that is less apparent because of the barriers we face. I am committed to seeking out, recruiting, and supporting the most talented and diverse students in medicine to Nebraska. Patients deserve to have doctors that are like them. I want to send a message – we want you here, we support you, we ask that you join in our mission."

Chelsea Navarrette
Donovon Allen, M3

"I joined the DIVERSE Taskforce because I wanted to be a part of an organization that would work to increase diversity on campus and in the medical field. My path to medical school was a long one simply because I did not know how to get there. When I did get into medical school there were organizations, faculty, and classmates who encouraged me to challenge myself and have helped me to be successful in my time here. Joining the DIVERSE Taskforce gives me the opportunity to use my experiences to help others reach their goals and ultimately improve health outcomes for underserved populations by increasing diversity and inclusivity in medicine."

Donovon Allen
Ziomara Jurado, M2

"I joined the DIVERSE taskforce because in my ideal medical world providers reflect the people of the community and this taskforce is making strides to bring this to fruition. I have a passion for bringing diversity and inclusion to the forefront and want to continue this into and throughout my career."

Dr. Kishan Patel, House Officer III

"Diversity was secondhand in my upbringing. When I moved to Nebraska, I soon realized that the heterogeneity I once cherished was not widespread. It was refreshing to see the staff and community at UNMC open to change and equal opportunity; I joined the DIVERSE taskforce to help see that through."

Faculty Advisory Group

We had significant faculty interest in participating in this work. Those who did not join the taskforce joined the Faculty Advisory group, tasked with working closely with members of the advisory group to brainstorm ideas, discuss goals, and consider how the taskforce can influence other areas in the College of Medicine.
Members:
  • Dr. Poonam Velagapudi (Cardiovascular Medicine)
  • Dr. Justin Birge (Hospital Medicine)
  • Dr. Bronwyn Small (Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine)
  • Dr. Sehr Haroon (Hospital Medicine)
  • Dr. Ward Chambers (Cardiovascular Medicine)
  • Dr. Nada Fadul (Infectious Diseases)
  • Dr. Sara Bares (Infectious Diseases)
  • Dr. Marco Olivera (Gastroenterology & Hepatology)
  • Dr. Mahliqha Qasimyar (Hospital Medicine)