On June 11-13, 2020 the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at Frontier Nursing University (FNU) hosted the 10th Annual Diversity Impact Conference. FNU started this tradition in 2010 alongside the launch of the Diversity Impact Program which was introduced with the primary goal of increasing diversity in enrollment while providing a more inclusive environment and stronger support system for all students. Since the launch of the Diversity Impact Program, we have seen FNU’s enrollment of students of color rise from 9 percent to 24 percent, numbers we are extremely proud of, but hope will continue to grow.
The first Diversity Impact Conference was introduced with the hopes of engaging students in culture and thought that differs from their own as a means to expand awareness and understanding of those that differ from them. At our conference, we highlight issues involving race, culture, and the LGBTQ community through speakers, discussions, and small group activities. Due to COVID-19, we chose to continue this event on a digital platform this year, which may have looked a little different, but still provided a great weekend of community and enlightenment.
This year’s conference theme, ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020: Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ followed the lead of the World Health Organization (WHO) which designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. The rise of COVID-19 has highlighted to the world the importance of quality nursing and midwifery care, and at FNU, we believe that in order to provide the best quality nursing and midwifery care to all people, cultural respect and inclusion are essential.
The conference began Thursday, June 11 with introductions from the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) Geraldine Young. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion staff, the Diversity Impact Adhoc Committee, moderators, academic leadership, and support were introduced along with a briefing from the CDIO, including a moment of silence for those affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic and racism. Introductions were followed by a welcome address from FNU president, Susan Stone emphasizing the school’s goals of encouraging and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion and emphasizing the effects of White Privilege.
Following Dr. Stone’s address was premier speaker Kenya Beard, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences at Nassau Community College. Dr. Beard is a nurse educator with over 30 years of nursing experience in acute and long-term care settings. Students across the state seek her assistance to prepare for and pass the NCLEX-RN, as she has improved the NCLEX-RN pass rate for several nursing programs in New York. Dr. Beard received her EdD from Dowling College and her MS in Adult Health from Stony Brook University.
In her session “Addressing Health Disparities: The Role of Healthcare Providers & Educators,” Dr. Beard discussed how structural racism impacts health equity, healthcare disparities, and social determinants of health (SDOH). She left attendees with meaningful ways to facilitate race-related discourse.
On Friday, our keynote speaker, Milagros Phillips AKA ‘The Race Healer’, addressed the conference with a comprehensive speech titled “What is Race Literacy – 4 Dimensions of Racial Conditioning”. This impactful speech focused on the ways in which we may be conditioned by race and described how coming face to face with our own biases can transform our work and liberate our hearts.
Other thought-provoking speakers included Ronald Hickman Jr. on “Everyday Biases: We all Have Them and Can Manage Them”, Laura Manns-James on “Microaggressions in Nursing Education and Health: Why They Matter and What We Can Do About Them” and Katrin Moskowitz on “The “Ask Me How I Am Project”: The Discussion of Mental Health and Suicide Among Health Care Workers.”
Throughout the weekend students also engaged in virtual networking sessions, breakout small groups, tabletop discussions, and optional virtual lunches with faculty and staff. As a bonus to the virtual experience, we also included an online scavenger hunt that encouraged participants to engage with FNU on social media and share their conference experiences.
Winners of the Virtual Scavenger Hunt, a free T-shirt, and other goodies are:
- Kelly Wilson
- Cassie Henry
- April Karyn Haneline
- Adrienne Christner
- Gretchen Grey
- Sydney Boone
- Alisha Cigalotti
- Nancy Carter
Congratulations and thank you for participating!
The conference ended Saturday evening following a fantastic weekend of community, respect, knowledge, and self-evaluation. A huge thanks to all of our speakers, faculty, and staff that helped to make this event possible. Next year, we hope once again to be able to engage in this time of personal and professional growth in person but are also overwhelmed with the success and positive feedback from our virtual experience.
Here is what some of this year’s participants had to say about our virtual Diversity Impact Conference:
“Thank you for organizing such a wonderful event. I have laughed, cried, and learned so much. I don’t even think that I have processed everything yet, but I know that I am a better person because I attended this event. Thank you.” – Angela Bailey, FNU Chief Advancement Officer
“Thank you so much for all of the hard work that you put into making the virtual Diversity Impact Conference happen this year. Every single speaker and activity was informative and inspirational… This was my first year attending, but it will certainly not be my last.” – Melinda M. Hancock
“The conference is a big success. A big thank you.” – Diane John, FNU faculty
“Dr. Beard’s session was so insightful. I learned to be more aware of implicit bias and to stand up for others and my patients to ensure the best care for all (even if it causes a “disagreement” with a doctor!). Also, thank you to Dr. Stone for an amazing presentation.” – Kelly Wilson
Thank you to everyone who joined us, we hope to see you again for our Diversity Impact Conference 2021! To learn more about FNU’s Diversity Impact program, visit Frontier.edu/Diversity.