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COVID-19 Community Education and Empowerment Internship for Undergraduate STEM Students

With a focus on educating diverse communities about COVID-19, a new program has been launched for undergraduate STEM students who are interested in the medical and health fields. The Weill Cornell Medicine Diversity Center of Excellence is administratively hosting this program due to its history of engaging students and community partners.

The Diversity Center of Excellence collaborates with various internal partners at Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and community partners to work towards eliminating health disparities. As part of the HRSA funded Diversity Center of Excellence grant, the Center launched the Pre-Medical Diversity Initiative which has engaged underrepresented minority, first-generation college students, and immigrant pre-medical students through small group mentoring, an annual conference, and pipeline programs.

This exciting new program on COVID-19 for STEM students will cover many areas, including the dissemination of information about COVID-19 and vaccination for diverse communities, vaccine science, and approaches for community education regarding COVID-19 vaccination. A collaborative effort, the program has recruited 775 diverse students from 28 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and three international schools. The students will meet virtually, divided into two cohorts (four weeks in length), that will take place over four Saturdays. Speakers will include Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Torian Easterling, First Deputy Commissioner/Chief Equity Officer of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Dr. Kristen Marks, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Site Principal Investigator for the Moderna vaccine trial at NYP/WCM; and Dr. Oni Blackstock, Founder and Executive Director of Health Justice.

Collaborators of this effort include: Weill Cornell Medicine/Cornell Center for Health Equity and its Diversity Center of Excellence; Albert Einstein College of Medicine; SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University; NYU School of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center; Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Mentoring in Medicine.

Drs. Susana Morales and Monika Safford serve as the Co-Principal Investigators of the Weill Cornell Medicine Diversity Center of Excellence of the Cornell Center for Health Equity. The Diversity Center of Excellence’s mission is to enhance diversity in medicine and healthcare and to promote health equity through research, education, and advocacy, all in partnership with the community.