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By the time COVID-19 reached the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine community, the virus was accompanied by a frenzy of fear — and unfortunately, some bigotry.

Students at Geisinger Commonwealth, always encouraged to be advocates, did not remain silent.

Ebuwa (Bu) Ighodaro, Medical Student Council (MSC) Diversity and Inclusion chair, coordinated and facilitated a schoolwide Zoom program entitled “Discussing the Medical Perspective of Dealing with COVID-19-Related Microaggressions.”

“Some of our Asian-American students were telling MSC that they had experienced racist moments in the community,” he said. “To me, that is unacceptable. I wanted a concerted response — we need to be conscious of what we do and say, especially during times of crisis.” Ebuwa said he drew on lessons learned from the Geisinger Commonwealth curriculum, especially in the areas of professional identity formation and the cultural humility curriculum included in the school’s “Understanding and Interrupting Microaggression” training for all MBS and first-year medical students.

During the session, Ebuwa called out specific incidents that have taken place worldwide related to the inequities of COVID-19. He gave visual examples of the impact of microaggression during the pandemic and posed questions to get participants to engage in open and authentic conversations.

Vicki T. Sapp, PhD, director of Student Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion and assistant professor, said, “Bu made me very proud that he was able to take his in-class training and make it applicable outside of the classroom. Excellent!”

Ebuwa Ighodaro, MD Class of 2023
Ebuwa (Bu) Ighodaro, MD Class of 2023