February 2019


Diversity Promising Practices Conference

Held February 25th and 26th at the Hotel at Auburn, the Diversity Promising Practices: Positioning Diversity and Inclusion for Global Impact conference focused on increasing cultural intelligence, modeling inclusive excellence and embracing a global mindset. Interestingly, the conference’s two-day format permitted an agenda that catered to professionals and students alike. For example, the student conference was held on the 26th, and consisted of two blocks of sessions. Beginning at ten o’clock, Ms. Breyuna L. Williams led a session called Navigating Generational Diversity in the 21st Century Global Workforce that highlighted the importance of working within the context of generational differences that will be inevitably be encountered in a workforce that spans nearly 5 generations. Next, at eleven o’clock, Dr. Bobby Kunstman led a session called Using a Global Mindset to Cultivate and Strengthen Leadership Practices that focused on the experiences of student leaders and how their identity as a person influences how they function as a leader. Dr. Kunstman’s session was largely interactive and facilitated conversation between diverse attendees about leadership, identity and their intersection. Block A of the student conference finished with this session and Block B started up at one o’clock.

To begin the second block, the Navigating Generational Diversity in the 21st Century Global Workforce session was held again, however this time it was led by Dr. LaDonna M. Thornton. That session preceded Dr. Kunstman’s session, Using a Global Mindset to Cultivate and Strengthen Leadership Practices, which led into a new session led by Patricia Rossi. Rossi, who is the host of NBC Daytime’s weekly Manners Minute and bestselling author of Everyday Etiquette: How to Navigate 101 Common and Uncommon Social Situations, led an etiquette dinner that began at five-thirty. This session offered insight into topics such as business growth, social influence, business dining, effective business entertaining and social media clarity.


Society for Women in Science and Mathematics (SWSM)

The Society of Women in Science and Mathematics (SWSM; pronounced "swizzum") at Auburn University works on campus and with the community at large to support women in STEM. SWSM achieves this through bringing awareness to women within STEM fields, developing members’ leadership skills and offering mentorship to younger girls. For example, earlier this semester SWSM partnered with local non-profit Our House to mentor Girl Scouts who live in Auburn, helping them to earn their science-based merit badges. In addition, SWSM hosts events on campus such as symposia on topics like microaggressions against women in STEM or women in leadership. Moving forward, SWSM will continue to host on-campus events and work with Our House to support women of all ages who have interest in sciences and mathematics. Jill Taylor, President of SWSM, says that they are always looking for new members and passionate mentors, and you can email Jill at if you would like more information.


STEM Glide Study Abroad in Dominican Republic: COSAM OIED 

STEM Glide is a study abroad program put on by COSAM OIED that is absolutely free to the students who were admitted. In the inaugural trip, Dr. Kimberly Mulligan and ten undergraduates will be heading to four locations in the Dominican Republic, working alongside locals to improve water quality and immersing themselves in a foreign culture. In addition to the trip abroad itself, STEM Glide also holds a weekly discussion-based class for the students that explores many topics, including various local cultures in Dominican Republic and the logistics of traveling abroad. “I feel really lucky to have gotten in. This is all new to me,” Ryan Washburn, a sophomore who was admitted to the program said. “A lot of us haven’t even left the South,” Marie Harris, a junior, added, “and I’m very thankful for this opportunity.” Both first-generation college students, these biomedical sciences majors are taking full advantage of what COSAM OIED has to offer and are looking forward to the learning, camaraderie and cultural immersion STEM Glide will provide. Furthermore, the 2019 Tiger Giving Day helped fund STEM Glide and provided just under $11,000 to help these students be able to participate in this meaningful experience.


STEM High School Visitation Day

On February 4, 2019, COSAM and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering hosted STEM High School Visitation Day in the Student Center. Coming from all over Alabama, high schoolers and their parents were treated to a full day of activities. These events included speeches by prominent figures in COSAM and engineering, panels of current professors, undergraduate and graduate students, an information booth session and a campus tour. Auburn’s visitors were also provided breakfast and lunch on-site, and during lunch, enjoyed a performance by the Auburn University Gospel Choir. Attendance to this Visitation Day was good and the event is being seen as a success due in no small part to the group of people who gave their time to help reach out to young people about STEM.

According to Dr. Vincent Ortiz, a professor in Auburn’s chemistry department, the best way to increase diversity in recruitment for STEM is to increase the visibility of minority scientists and to show traditionally underrepresented young people that there is a place for them in science, technology and mathematics. This increase in visibility is the goal of Visitation Day, and through the work of people like Dr. Kimberly Mulligan and Dr. Cordelia Brown, Auburn University is taking meaningful steps toward a more diverse representation in STEM undergraduate students.


 Alabama Poverty Simulation: MAPS and AED

According to, “Alabama Possible is a statewide nonprofit organization that removes barriers to prosperity in Alabama through education, collaboration, and advocacy. Our research-driven work is designed to broaden relationships and enhance capacity building, with a focus on addressing systemic poverty. We believe that it is possible for all Alabamians to lead prosperous lives, and our programs work to make that possibility a reality. We have been working to change the way people think and talk about poverty in Alabama since 1993.”

“Sometimes, it seems like we get caught in our Auburn bubble,” said Alexis Stokes, President of the Minority Association for Pre-Health Students (MAPS), “and have no focus on the community around us.” By bringing the Alabama Poverty Simulation to Auburn on February 23rd, students had the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and briefly glimpse some of the struggles that the 18.9% of Alabamians who live in poverty deal with every day. This program was made available to med students this past August, but MAPS and Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED) wanted to offer this opportunity to undergraduate students, as well. The simulation was open to all COSAM students and was able to hold approximately 80 people.


Achieving Health Equity: Tools for Naming and Addressing Racism (CHEER)

According to the Director of the Center for Health Ecology and Equity Research (CHEER), Dr. David Chae, CHEER’s main purpose is to bring a focus to “‘health ecology,’ which is the interaction between multiple levels of influence on health—ranging from broader social forces down to the cellular level.” Along this vein, Camara Phyllis Jones MD, MPH, PhD was invited to speak at Auburn University on February 26th as a part of the Spring 2019 Seminar Series. Dr. Jones deftly used allegory to explain racism and health disparities in her seminar titled, Achieving Health Equity: Tools for Naming and Addressing Racism. Moreover, Dr. Jones frequently interacted with her audience through posing interesting questions and providing fascinating answers focused on recognizing racism, her use of allegory and health inequities. Altogether, allegory functioned very well as a medium to recognize and name racism and health disparities, in addition to opening up conversation about these difficult concepts.




Contributor: Matt Gonzales

Editors: Matt Gonzales and Dr. Kimberly Mulligan