Three Pritzker Students win '23 DAB Diversity Awards

Pritzker School of Medicine students Santiago Avila, Rimel Mwamba, and Tecora Turner were honored on Friday as winners of UChicago Grad Diversity Advisory Board (DAB) Diversity Awards for 2023, recognizing their various efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Chicago and more broadly.

Avila, a fourth-year student, won the Georgiana Simpson Research Award, giving Pritzker a repeat win for the award that “celebrates the scholarly work of University of Chicago graduate students that critically engage conversations about diversity in their disciplines.” He has focused much of his research on Spanish language use in medicine, including how language concordance can benefit patients and the ways language barriers present obstacles to achieving health equity.

As a participant in the NCI-funded Scholars in Oncology-Associated Research Program, Avila has conducted research on increasing health literacy among linguistic minority patients receiving radiotherapy. This work with Dr. Pilar Ortega and Dr. Daniel Golden recently led to publication of a first-authored paper entitled “Spanish Adaptation and Evaluation of Clinical Discussion Guides: Communicating the External Beam Radiotherapy Experience (CEBRE) en Español” in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, and Physics.

Turner, a second-year student, received the Mary S. Debose Outstanding Advocate Award, making her the second winner of the award from Pritzker in the three years the award has been given out. The award aims to recognize dedicated advocacy in a particular social justice area. In addition to her work with community service organizations, Turner has been an active advocate on several causes during her time at Pritzker.

With the SNMA Region II Executive Board, Turner serves as Political Advocacy Liaison, helping keep SNMA chapters and members informed about current public policy and political issues impacting health care. She is a Peer Health Advocate with UChicago Wellness, promoting honest, inclusive sex-positive discussion of sexual health and relationships across campus through workshops, resources, and events. Turner also serves as a volunteer mentor for Sisters Working it Out, a group that aims to eliminate breast cancer disparities in the Chicagoland area, in part by connecting women of color to preventative health services.

Mwamba, a second-year student, won the Furthering Diversity Award, which is awarded for displaying leadership within each division in the realm of furthering diversity on UChicago’s campus. Mwamba has held a number of leadership positions contributing to diversity during her time at Pritzker. She was Co-President of Pritzker’s Student National Medical Association (SNMA) chapter and helped organize the 2022 Black and Latina Women in Medicine Forum. Mwamba also served as Regional Research Liaison for the SNMA Region II Executive Board and helped facilitate Pritzker students’ attendance at the 2022 Annual Medical Education Conference.

Within the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Mwamba co-founded EquiTrial, a company that aims to increase access to and educational resources for cancer clinical trials among marginalized populations with a goal of increasing diversity in clinical trials.

Across the three years the Diversity Advisory Board has given out the Diversity Awards, Pritzker students have won a total of 14 awards.