LaMisha Hill, Angel Ku, Ana Cruz, J. Renee Navarro, Denisse Rojas, Jirayut New, Laura Aguilar, Jose Carrasco

Diversity and Outreach News


Synapse’s Diversity and Outreach column highlights the efforts of UCSF organizations and individuals in community and educational outreach, and in promoting diversity on campus. 

Photo caption: The UCSF community was invited to a screening of “Dreamers to Doctors”, a short film focused on four undocumented youth who are aspiring to become health professionals. The film was followed by a panel discussion with current and prospective UCSF students discussing the challenges they have faced navigating the US education system based on their own immigration status. Left to right: LaMisha Hill (MRC director), Angel Ku (second-year PSPG student) Ana Cruz (first-year pharmacy student), J. Renee Navarro (Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach), Denisse Rojas, Jirayut New (first-year medical student), Laura Aguilar, Jose Carrasco

Alpha Eta’s Fall Outreach Event

By Nhat Bui

Contributing Writer

I knew that someday I would return to the UC Berkeley’s Health Sciences Post-Baccalaureate program.  It was only a few years ago that I participated in it, and at the time I had felt somewhat isolated as the only student pursuing a career in nursing, with questions about what type of opportunities nursing had to offer.

On September 3rd I returned to the program as an Alpha Eta (AE) representative.  As co-chair of the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Honor Society of Nursing UCSF Alpha Eta Outreach Committee, I had the opportunity to speak to current students in the program.  My goal was to provide information and support in understanding the many roles and career choices available in nursing, in particular, the importance of leadership in nursing and how nursing organizations like STTI can provide and promote such opportunities.

The small group of pre-nursing students discussed the different roles in nursing, such as nurse practitioners (NP), clinical nurse specialists (CNS), leaders, and researchers. Many of these students were unsure of which direction to take and appreciated having the space to ask their questions, which ranged from straightforward questions such as “What are the differences between an NP and a CNS?” to more complex questions like “What does being a leader in nursing mean?” It was also a great opportunity for them to meet each other and connect. “I thought I was the only nursing student,” said one student.  “I found my people,” said another. 

STTI is dedicated to encouraging learning, increasing knowledge, and supporting career and leadership development for nurses around the world. Most nursing schools are associated with an STTI chapter and that information can be easily found on the organization’s website. The students showed interest in the organization, and while they are not yet eligible for membership, they have all been leaders in their own respective fields and would like to continue this by becoming members in the future.

I hope that this will be the beginning of a future collaboration between AE and UC Berkeley with their pre-nursing students. While the Outreach Committee is also geared towards membership retention and recruiting new members, I think it is still important to encourage those out in the community to get interested in nursing, and to learn more about the great opportunities that STTI can offer. 

Nhat Bui, RN, is an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Student

Sylvia Mendez and the Desegregation of California Schools

By Angela Castanieto

Associate Editor

“Nobody knows about this case – how five Latino families fought for the integration of schools in California, and how we won,” said Sylvia Mendez, recalling the words of her mother.  These words were the inspiration for Mendez’s ongoing journey to educate Californians about Mendez vs. Westminster, a 1946 federal court case that ruled that segregation of Mexican students into separate schools was unconstitutional. 

On November 12th, in an event organized by Voces Latinas and the Office of Diversity and Outreach, Mendez spoke to UCSF students and staff about how five Mexican-American families, including her own, challenged the segregation of 5000 children into “Mexican schools” upon Mendez being turned away from her local Westminster school. 

The audience, many of whom were underrepresented minorities and could recall their own stories of undergoing segregation and racism, listened with rapt attention as Mendez shared in a frank, conversational tone her recollections of witnessing the struggle as a child.  “I still remember being turned away from that school,” recalled Mendez, “but Mendez vs. Westminster allowed me to be proud of who I am…because we all deserve the same treatment.”

Mendez also shared stories about her chosen profession, given that many in the audience were in healthcare.   “Nursing will always be my first love.  I love to compare Mendez (vs. Westminster) to nursing, because everyone in healthcare knows that it is all about treating everyone equally, with care, kindness and respect, and assuring that we all receive the same quality treatment – never judging by race or gender.  My favorite word I learned as a nurse was “empathy,” and that I will never forget,” she said, prompting smiles and nods in agreement from the audience. 

There is still much to be done to educate people in this landmark case.  While its profile has been slowly rising due to the admirable work that Mendez has done, culminating in her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the case being nearly integrated as part of the California curriculum (the bill being unfortunately vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger), still most people do not know about Mendez vs. Westminster.  To learn more about Sylvia Mendez and how to help raise the awareness of this historical case, visit

Angela Castanieto is a sixth-year Tetrad student.  


By Tina Novero

Contributing Writer

Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) Cultural Heritage Film Series 

November 23, 5:15pm

MU 123W

MRC and the UCSF Native American Health Alliance (NAHA) present the The Cherokee Word For Water, a feature-length motion picture inspired by the true story of the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Pearl Mankiller. It highlights her leadership in the struggle for and ultimate success of a rural Cherokee community to bring running water to their families by using the traditional concept of "gadugi," working together to solve a problem.  RSVP: [email protected]

Transgender Day of Remembrance 

November 20, 12-1pm

Lange Reading Room

Transgender Day of Remembrance will include a panel discussion as well as a reading of names memorializing lives we have lost as a result of transphobia. We invite friends, family members, and allies of transgender people who have experienced loss and/or violence. This event is sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center and the Office of Diversity and Outreach.

Tina Novero is Program Coordinator of the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) and LGBT Resource Center. 

If you are part of a UCSF organization that does outreach or diversity-focused events, you can showcase past events or announce upcoming events in this column.  Please e-mail a write-up (200 words or fewer per event) to [email protected] with the subject line Diversity & Outreach by January 15th to be featured in the January 22nd issue.