SAN FRANCISCO, May 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Three extraordinary higher education leaders will be honored as the 2010 Champions of Health Professions Diversity by The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF). University of California San Diego Associate Chancellor Sandra P. Daley has advocated for academic enrichment programs that reach disadvantaged students, as early as in middle school, who are interested in health and science careers. Stanford University's Ronald D. Garcia developed a nationally recognized admissions procedure that considers the whole path a student applicant has taken, leveling the playing field and increasing the diversity of the student population. Jeffrey S. Oxendine, at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, uses his background in business and public health to create programs that develop and increase diversity in the health workforce.
On June 14, 2010, TCWF will honor these three leaders at its eighth annual "Champions of Health Professions Diversity Award" ceremony in San Francisco. In recognition of their efforts to reach out, mentor and support disadvantaged students preparing for health careers, the honorees will each receive a cash award of $25,000.
Increasing California's health workforce and its diversity is important for improving the health of Californians. Our state's population continues to grow and, by 2020, it will be older and significantly more ethnically and racially diverse. Already there are shortages of workers in nearly all sectors of the health workforce. A workforce that mirrors the racial and ethnic diversity of California will provide the cultural competence and language proficiency necessary to provide high-quality health care for all Californians.
"Given the changing demographics of our state and the current shortage of health workers, we must encourage and support young people in California to consider pursuing jobs and careers in health fields," said Gary L. Yates, TCWF president and CEO. "These leaders have pioneered programs and policies that track, support and guide students on a path from under-resourced schools to higher education and health professions."
Sandra P. Daley is the associate chancellor and chief diversity officer at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Daley also serves as director and principal investigator for the UCSD Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), which provides academic support and resources to underrepresented and low-income students beginning in the seventh grade. HCOP has achieved impressive results, with more than 90 percent of participants entering college and more than 30 percent of those college graduates continuing on to graduate or professional school.
"Higher education is incredibly important to our society from so many vantage points," Daley said. "The data show that for each and every student who attends and graduates from college with a bachelor's degree, our state gets a return on its investment 10 years after the student graduates. Supporting higher education makes economic sense."
Ronald D. Garcia is the assistant dean of minority affairs and program director of the Center of Excellence in Cultural Diversity at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Garcia is a senior lecturer at Stanford's Center for Education in Family and Community Medicine and the associate director and director of admissions of the Primary Care Associate Program, offered jointly by Stanford University Medical Center and Foothill College. He pioneered a nationally recognized, higher education admissions procedure that looks at "distance traveled" by students in order to increase diversity in medical and health professional schools.
"The Association of American Medical Colleges is looking for new ways to evaluate medical school applications," Garcia said. "We've been doing that at Stanford for the past 20 years. We examine the context of a candidate's achievement in terms of his or her economic, social, educational, geographical, racial, ethnic and linguistic background."
Jeffrey S. Oxendine is the associate dean of public health practice and directs the Center for Public Health Practice at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. He founded UC Berkeley's Center for Multicultural Health and Center for Health Leadership, and serves as a faculty member in Health Policy and Management at the School of Public Health and the Haas School of Business. He is also co-founder and president of Health Career Connection (HCC), a nonprofit that has inspired and empowered more than 900 undergraduate students in California, New England and New York to discover and pursue health careers.
"There are many programs where students have defied the odds and achieved tremendous success," Oxendine said. "Collectively, we need to support and replicate the many programs working effectively in middle schools, high schools, community colleges and beyond to help students understand their career options, level the playing field, and provide services along the way to make students successful."
The California Wellness Foundation is a private independent foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. The Foundation prioritizes eight issues for funding: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women's health, and work and health. It also responds to timely issues and special projects outside the funding priorities.
Since its founding in 1992, TCWF has awarded 5,828 grants totaling more than $735 million. Please visit TCWF's website at www.calwellness.org for more information, including a newsroom section devoted to the Champions of Health Professions Diversity Award and the three honorees. High-resolution photos are also available.