January 2021 Edition

Watching a mob storm the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday is a reminder that some of the most devastating attacks are often not the ones that take us by surprise, but those which we see coming and do not take adequate steps to avoid. In the past four years, the President’s embrace of white supremacist and violent groups has affected journalists, activists, faith communities, and others. He again fanned the flames as he incited rioters. A noose was hung outside the building. A Confederate flag flew in the halls. Media gear was piled up after rioters destroyed it, and then a noose was made out of the cords. Rioters posed for cameras by flashing the “white power” symbol. Offices were looted. An officer died.

But equally devastating was the response of law enforcement. The police force seemed quickly overwhelmed and unable to secure the Capitol. In some cases, officers were criticized for appearing sympathetic to the will of the crowd. The police response to domestic terrorism on Wednesday was shocking to witness given how it starkly contrasted to the police use of excessive and deadly force on peaceful protestors of the Black Lives Matter movement over the last six years. This summer we saw tear gas, rubber bullets, and tasers as protestors peacefully demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery,  Eric Garner, Philandro Castile, and the thousands of others. The insurrection at the Capitol is not just about the police; it is a broader conversation about race, politics, and justice. There is a sense in this country that black and brown bodies are not afforded the right to dissent. 

We condemn the disturbing violence that took place on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. We are deeply concerned by reports that armed white supremacist groups and individuals are planning further disruption across the country over the coming days. We stand with black and brown students on our campus.

If you are struggling to process this event or need personal or academic support, all students are encouraged to contact their Society Deans and University Counseling Services. Your mental health and emotional safety are important and we encourage you to seek help from friends, family, mentors, and professionals in this time. If you need help finding resources please see some links at the bottom of this email and feel free to contact any of the diversity representatives. 

Welcome Our New Diversity Affairs Representative for the School of Medicine Committee of Student Representatives!

My name is Penelope Halkiadakis (she/her/hers) and I am a first year MD/MPH student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. I am excited to get to work with you all as the new Diversity Affairs Representative on the School of Medicine Committee of Student Representatives. I am also the Political Action Liaison for SNMA/LMSA. 

For almost a decade, I have been a grassroots organizer and national strategist for Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights movement. As part of my work with Amnesty, I am a member of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Advisory Council. In that role, I am helping to examine our culture, increase awareness, collect data, and build systems, policies, and practices that will ensure that our culture and campaigns reflect the communities we serve and have maximum impact with the goal of transformation, equity, and inclusion for all.

Some of my priorities for this year include: work with the new Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion to thoughtfully and intentionally include student voices in shaping the new Office for Diversity and Inclusion; collaborate with the Diversity Action Committee, Medical Alumni Board, and like-minded organizations on campus; create a Diversity Center that is a hub for identity development, social justice education, community-building, empowerment, and allyship on campus; and grow intersectional and interprofessional programming.

Passing the Reins and moving onto M3 by Maria Moncaliano 

Hello Zebras! This is officially my final newsletter. I am passing the reins to Penelope who is taking over my position as Diversity Representative of the Committee of Student Representatives. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Connie to write ZH every month. 

I hope it has been a source of information, resources, and entertainment for you. My goal has been to increase visibility of individuals of all backgrounds by highlighting important events and movements and recommending educational resources. Over the summer many of us made it a personal goal to learn more about how People of Color have been impacted by systemic and structural racism. I encourage you to continue to educate yourselves on this topic and ask yourselves how you can support your black and brown peers and colleagues. 

I am excited for what Penelope and future Diversity Representatives will bring to Zebra Hoofbeats. As always, reach out to me if I can ever be of assistance and remember to be kind to yourselves.  
Contact Maria

National Blood Donor Month

For the month of January, the US celebrates National Blood Donor Month because there is typically a decrease in blood donations around the holidays, inclement weather, and flu season. Blood donations are needed all over the world, especially now. The measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted our global supply of blood. We encourage you to sign up for safe blood donations by making an appointment with the American Red Cross. Right now, the Red Cross is giving donors, between January 1-31, 2021, a chance to win two tickets to next year’s 2022 Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles, California.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is a time to acknowledge those experiencing enslavement and those who have escaped human trafficking.

Widespread economic instability, housing insecurity, and homelessness brought on by the pandemic has increased the incidence of human trafficking in Cleveland. Confinement and travel restrictions have caused increased abuses of trafficking victims, slowed or halted the rescue of thousands of victims, and delayed the criminal justice system, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GIAOC) reports.

Here is a guide produced by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center describing the role healthcare professionals should take in identifying and serving victims of trafficking and describing the short-term and long-term health effects of human trafficking.

Learn more about the Human Trafficking Program at the Case Western School of Law, which offers social services and legal representation to trafficking survivors and sex workers and check out the role they played during “Operation Autumn Hope” this past December.

Jan 12 - National Pharmacist Day

Pharmacies are a vital part to the healthcare system by providing medicines, therapeutics, vaccines, and critical health services to the public.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists, like many other healthcare providers, have to be flexible with their scope of practice. Over the past months, there have been multiple changes that the healthcare industry has witnessed, including an influx of Medicaid enrollment due to unemployment, disruptions to health care treatment, a shift in policy focus away from drug pricing, and the increased awareness of social determinants of health.

In the midst of all this, they are also the medication experts. Hospital pharmacists are evaluating emerging COVID‐19 drug therapy options to rapidly make patient care decisions, monitoring and adjusting COVID‐19 medications to prevent adverse side effects, managing numerous drug shortages, maintaining uninterrupted drug supply, resolving supply chain issues for critical care medicines, adjusting workflow to preserve personal protective equipment, and establishing new pharmacy services in temporary emergency COVID‐19 hospitals. Community pharmacists are setting up COVID‐19 clinics, using telehealth to provide chronic care management, and providing COVID‐19 testing and guidance once results are known.

We are bringing this day into light because we should value the pharmacists in our teams. For more information on the global contributions of pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic, please read this article published on JACCP.

Jan 13 - Korean American Day

Korean American Day commemorates the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States in 1903. In December 1902, 102 Korean immigrants set sail on the SS Gaelic for Honolulu, Hawaii. These families initiated the first wave of Korean immigration, resulting in over 7,500 immigrants over the next two years. The day is meant to honor the Korean American’s immense contributions to our society.

Recently, on early Thursday morning, NJ representative, Andy Kim, was seen cleaning up debris that was littered inside the U.S. Capitol. Andy Kim reflected on the event that had occurred and thought, ''It's so hard because we don't look at each other and see each other as Americans first, whether it's race or ethnicity or religion or political party that's getting in the way of us being able to have that shared identity that forged our country and is necessary for us to be able to continue.'' Let this behavior be a reminder that immigrants make America better.

Jan 18 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is normally marked by parades, speeches and musical performances. Check out the 2021 virtual events happening in Cleveland here.

Let us continue to reflect on our roles as healthcare professionals to be allies and advocates. It is our responsibility to introspect and examine how we are connected to systems of power, privilege, and oppression; to acknowledge how structural racism effects of peers, patients, and institutions; to challenge ourselves, our peers peers, our policies, and our systems when faced with systemic racism; and to take meaningful action with (not for!) frontline communities to achieve change. 

Jan 27 - International Holocaust Remembrance Day

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an international memorial day that serves a reminder to the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. The Holocaust was a genocide that resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews and others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum held events for this day. In the future, we recommend going to the USHMM since it is a worthwhile experience when visiting Washington, D.C. 

From Connie’s Library: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

It gives me great pleasure to finally have a chance to recommend one of my all time favorite books.

This novel takes you on a whirlwind journey! It really felt like I was watching a telenovela or Korean drama. Pachinko is a cross between a pinball and a slot machine, and Min Jin Lee does an excellent job discussing the history of pachinko parlors and using it as a metaphor for the lives of the generations of one family in this novel.

During the second decade of the 20th century, as Korea falls under Japanese annexation, a young fisherman with a cleft palate, Hoonie, marries a local girl, Yangjin and they have a daughter named Sunja. Sunja grows up practically coddled by her parents in a rooming house by the sea in Yeong-do. After Sunja shamefully gives birth out of wedlock, she takes the offer to marry a pastor and move to Japan during the years before World War II to the late 1980s.

It was not until this book that I had learned about Korean-Japanese history and culture. The themes that really interested me about this novel were motherhood/strong female characters, self identity, and minorities and the politically disenfranchised.

I won’t try to spoil anything else. Please give this a read!

Statement from SNMA / LMSA

The SOM CWRU joint chapters of the Student National Medical Association and the Latino Medical Student Association (SNMA/LMSA) are student groups designed to unify and support Black, Latinx, and underrepresented medical students (URMs) at all levels.

Our goals include advocating for minority medical students and their needs, recruiting minority applicants, providing services in support of URM success, such as longitudinal mentorship programs and outreach, and fostering a strong sense of community and belonging. Members of SNMA/LMSA also push forth several diversity initiatives designed to develop equity, representation, and inclusion within medical school education at CWRU.
In light of recent events, we want to offer support for any student who feels distressed by the attempt to overtake the Capitol and delegitimize our election. We denounce the white nationalist attacks that took place and believe that blatant displays of hatred and racism that were displayed contradict every value we as future healthcare providers should uphold. There is no “moving on” from this without accountability for those responsible. We would encourage everyone to either reach out to us, other members of SNMA/LMSA, your Society Deans and any other support system in your lives for resources, accommodations, mental health services, and general good vibes should you need them to navigate these tumultuous times.

We are here to support our students of color. We hear you, We see you. And we believe that together we will get through this.
Yours in SNMA/LMSA,
Larissa De Souza, Co-President Class of 2024 (lmd119@case.edu)
Megan Sharpe, Co-President Class of 2024 (mxs1652@case.edu)


Mental Health Resources.


Frontline Fatigue

Asian Mental Health Collective

Melanin and Mental Health

Depressed While Black

Heads Up Men

The Trevor Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


Mental Health Blogs:

The Mighty

The OCD Stories

Love and Life Toolbox

University Health and Counseling Services

Support Groups and Services

Group Therapy

Mindfulness Hour

Guided Relaxation Exercises

Breathing Exercises:



Nadi Shodhan Pranayama



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Diversity Affairs Page
Contact Your Diversity Affairs Reps

Connie Cheng (PA)

Penelope Halkiadakis (SOM-UP)

Helena Baffoe-Bonnie (SOM-CCLCM)

Erica Chambers (SODM)

Alyssa Cornejo (SODM)

Nettie Durham (SODM)

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