UAMS Honors Individuals for Diversity Efforts

By ChaseYavondaC

Santiago Gonzales, a medical student in the UAMS College of Medicine; Brittney Roy, program coordinator in the UAMS Office of Global Health; and Beatrice Boateng, Ph.D., were this year’s winners of the student, staff and faculty categories of the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award. James Raczynski, Ph.D., dean of the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, received a special lifetime achievement award.

Gonzales, who is pursuing an M.D./M.P.H. degree, is working to establish the League of United Latin American Citizens at UAMS, the first on-campus Latino medical student organization.

Roy manages a student interest group in the Office of Global Health and provides support to the office’s Advisory Council. She is also a Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas.

Boateng, an associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and director of the UAMS Translational Research Institute’s Evaluation Program, led a campuswide assessment on diversity and inclusion in 2016 and its effect on the recruitment and retention of faculty and students. She’s also worked on a UAMS initiative to maximize student diversity.

Raczynski has helped the College of Public Health create a diverse public health workforce able to address the state’s health issues, particularly those related to health disparities. His research has focused on health promotion and disease prevention in the Arkansas Delta region, a predominantly rural and African-American region.

His research has also involved primary prevention of chronic diseases and racial and ethnic health disparities.

After congratulating all recipients and nominees, UAMS Interim Chancellor Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., condemned the recent racism and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and charged the audience of UAMS faculty, staff and students to look to rescue efforts in Houston following Hurricane Harvey as “an example of the very best of humanity.”

Rescue workers and volunteers did not ask about race or background before helping those in distress, she said.

“What we have seen in Houston is simply people helping people,” said Gardner. “What a wonderful concept: people helping people. That’s what is really important and that’s what we should be doing every day.”

Gardner said that same mindset and approach should apply to actions and efforts at UAMS.

“UAMS is an inclusive community and we cannot and will not tolerate disrespectful treatment of any of our members,” said Gardner. “We need to be reaching out our hands to help each other every single day, regardless of our differences. Diversity should unite us, not divide us.”

Billy Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion and director of the Center for Diversity Affairs, echoed Gardner’s sentiments and reminded the audience that positive changes are happening around the country.

“Over the past month, we’ve all witnessed things we thought were in the past,” said Thomas. “But things are changing and we have to be ready for those changes.”

The lunchtime symposium was the first in a series of events hosted by the Center for Diversity Affairs during September to highlight UAMS Diversity Month. Other Diversity Month events include:

  • “The History of Diversity: How Empires Rise and Fall”

Noon, Sept. 13, Rahn Building, Room G219 (Pauly Auditorium)

Erick Messias, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., associate dean for faculty affairs in the College of Medicine, will explore the different types of diversity, how diversity affected past empires and its effects on society today. Lunch will be served.

  • “Unpacking Our Privilege: Actions, Allies and Advocacy”

Noon, Sept. 20, UAMS Library, Active Learning Center

Sara Tariq, M.D., assistant dean of undergraduate clinical education in the College of Medicine and medical director of the Center for Clinical Skills, will give an interactive presentation about advocacy and privilege. Lunch will be served.

  • International Fest

11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Education II Building, Ground Floor Concourse

UAMS will wrap up Diversity Month with food, entertainment and cultural displays that feature the various cultures that make up UAMS.

Below are the nominees and winners of each category of the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award.


  • Santiago Gonzalez, College of Medicine (Winner)
  • Sasha Ray, College of Medicine
  • Ansley Scott, College of Medicine


  • Brittney Roy, College of Public Health (Winner)


  • Samuel R. Atcherson, Ph.D, College of Health Professions
  • Beatrice Boateng, Ph.D., Translational Research Institute (Winner)
  • James Raczynski, Ph.D., College of Public Health (Winner – Lifetime Achievement)
  • Gregory Robinson, Ph.D., College of Health Professions
  • Martha Rojo, Ph.D., R.N., College of Nursing
  • Nickolas Zaller, Ph.D., College of Public Health