Diversity Week 2021


During January 25-29, the college will host a series of fun and informative events to celebrate its third annual Diversity Week.

“We dedicate one week for the entire College of Osteopathic Medicine community to pause and listen to people who are different from you, to understand one another. We dedicate this week to celebrate, respect and embrace our differences,” says Dr. Debalina Bandyopadhyay, administrative director of the Detroit Medical Center site and one of the faculty advisors for Diversity Week.

A committee of over 20 SpartanDO students planned a series of events to explore and celebrate diversity—from disability and accessibility to intercultural cuisine; the impact of faith in medicine to transgender issues; and finally, an open mic session to showcase the talents of students.

These diversity events will expand participants’ definition of diversity, provide a better understanding of the unique needs of specific populations and ways to improve care for patients, and support connections with fellow SpartanDOs.

“I am so very proud of our students for bringing diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront, for challenging us to escalate our efforts and for being equal partners in advocating for social justice, equality and inclusive excellence in the college and our society,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Learn more about each event below.

*All events are open to MSUCOM affiliates, pre-college and admitted students, except the Open Mic Night, which is open to MSUCOM students, pre-college and admitted students.


Monday, January 25: Disability and Accessibility Panel


  • Dr. Mangala Sadasivan, PhD, associate professor at the college and director of Peak Learning Center
  • Caleb Sandoval, an ability access and chronic health specialist with Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities
  • Dr. Michael Andary, MD, MS, is board certified in the subspecialty of Pain Medicine by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation certified
  • A patient of Dr. Andary’s

Twenty-five percent of Americans identify as disabled. As a future physician, it is likely you will care for disabled or chronically ill patients. This event raises the importance of disability or chronic illness as a factor of diversity that physicians need to consider.

During this zoom event, panelists will cover how to care for disabled patients and advocate for disabled medical trainees, among other topics.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is all about recognizing, celebrating and supporting the intersectionalities of identities we hold. It’s something that requires meaningful, ongoing effort and must be emphasized as future physicians,” said event organizer Wendi Wang. “Representation and compassionate needs-based care matters.”

Event organizers: Wendi Wang, Anjali Gundeti and Elise Tuneff


Tuesday, January 26: Dinner, Dive-ins, and Diversity

This delicious and entertaining evening event will bring the COMmunity together through shared food, exploring the rich histories, cultures and traditions behind each dish and the common ingredients found across cultures that are a gateway to appreciation.

Fans of MasterChef will enjoy sharing recipes, and less experienced cooks can try out new recipes.

“When we share recipes, stories and cultural celebrations, we have the opportunity to see the outstanding uniqueness of each individual while realizing the significance of our similar human experience. We aspire to connect through simple ingredients, and, ultimately, relax and enjoy the company of our fellow Spartans,” said organizer Dao Tran. “DEI is an expression of humility and willingness to deeply understand the world outside of ourselves.”

Event organizers: Dao Tran and Rodan Mecano


Wednesday, January 27: Transgender Medicine and How to be an Ally


  • Josie Nixon, founder of Invigorate Productions and development coordinator at Out Boulder County, one of Colorado's largest LGBTQ+ resource centers
  • Skyler Love, a self-identified transgender man and full-time student pursuing a Bachelor's in Psychology and Master's in Social Work
  • Dr. Heselschwerdt, MD, assistant professor in health programs at MSU Health Care and a family medicine physician at Family Medicine Clinic in East Lansing
  • Virginia Blakely, LMSW, counselor at MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and self-identified Out and Proud Queer Lesbian
  • Mike Evitts, MS, doctoral student in health service psychology at MSU CAPS

In this seminar, health care professionals and transgender-identifying speakers will share about the unique needs, challenges and experiences of the transgender and larger LGBTQ+ community and how to best serve this underserved population.

Education about and representation of the LGBTQ+ community and their health needs are essential and applicable to every specialty within the field of medicine. This event will help participants begin or continue to build on these values and their commitment to serving all patients.

“From the experiences that we have individually, to the impacts that we will have on future patients, diversity impacts us in intersecting ways. It is important that we embrace the goals of DEI and put them into practice,” said Alisha Ungkuldee, one of the event organizers.

Event Organizers: Alisha Ungkuldee, Alexa Magsoudi and Samantha MacKay-Forton


Thursday, January 28: Open Mic (6-8 pm) - THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED

SpartanDO students are invited to express themselves and share their uniqueness through story, spoken word, music, art or other modality. Students may participate during a live, non-recorded Zoom session or submit written work or art pieces which will be available on the Open Mic Night website. This event is open to SpartanDO students only.

The Open Mic session will showcase and celebrate the breadth of student diversity at the college—highlighting unique experiences as well as the common struggles and triumphs that connect us. Come celebrate your individuality, recognize the value of community and encourage your peers to persevere when faced with adversity.

“DEI to me means that not only is everyone invited to the party, but everyone gets a chance to dance. It is a commitment to equality, celebration of individuality and a promise of a better tomorrow,” said Paul Lascuna, the event organizer.

Sign up for the Open Mic by Wednesday, January 27th.

Event organizer: Paul Lascuna


Friday, January 29: Faith and Medical Practice 


  • Dr. Farha Abbasi, MD, representing the Muslim faith
  • Dr. Kenneth Dudley, MD, representing the Christian faith
  • Dr. Paul Benson, DO, representing the Jewish faith

Hear from practicing physicians about how they incorporate and navigate different faiths into their medical practice. This facilitated discussion will guide students in investigating cultural sensitivity and awareness about different beliefs and their impacts on medical care.

Participants of this event will learn how to better understand, relate to and provide the best treatment for people from diverse cultures and religions.

“To me, DEI means accepting people as they are whether based on difference in race, sexuality, ethnicity, culture or religion,” said Jourdon Robinson, one of the event organizers.

Event organizers: Jourdon Robinson, Brandon Henry and Megan Knuth