This year, I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve on our Women’s Leadership Conference Outreach, Advertising, and Alumni Relations Committee. With all the changes this year has brought us, we had to find a way to transition our annual conference to be as engaging and impactful on our virtual platforms. Ever since the conference theme was initially announced, I began to reflect more on how I define the terms “interdisciplinary” and “allyship” and what these terms mean to me in my everyday life. During the conference committee meetings, I engaged with fellow Belles who had their unique definitions and perspectives of these terms which motivated me to think more deeply on how I identify with these terms. I realized that to me interdisciplinary education is much more than seeking out new information about different ideas and topics. Rather, intersectionality is the overlap of different cultures, races, socioeconomic status, backgrounds, identities, etc. (the list goes on) and how they all play a part in a person’s life and daily actions. To be as effective as possible, it requires one to be intentional about their actions, thoughts, and language to care for the whole person and community.
During the conference, we had speakers from a wide range of fields. One speaker, Susan Robinson, spoke about her experiences being diagnosed with a disability and the larger implications that this label of being “disabled” holds. She provided insight on the emotional impact this label has on many individuals that is often not understood. She compared this label to an alarm clock being disabled or in more modernized terms an Instagram account being disabled, in which an individual has to intentionally go in to dismantle or alter something so that the device or account cannot be functional at all. Hearing this was shocking to me because patients who are diagnosed with a disability are by no means lacking in functionality or control of their everyday lives. This example and definition of the term “disabled” brought to light how diagnoses and labels have much larger implications on how a person may be perceived in society. I began to reflect on my role as a future medical practitioner, where I grew to understand that it is important to learn the social impacts a disease and diagnosis has on patients and how I can be an educator in helping patients and communities understand these labels while striving to be more inclusive of everyone in the community. The importance of interdisciplinary education transcends beyond simply learning, but moreover it requires us to constantly reflect on our everyday thoughts, actions, and language to become greater advocates of inclusivity in the communities around us. I am forever thankful for Bruin Belles and our annual Women’s Leadership Conferences for providing us the space to have these conversations and continue to grow as a stronger community of empowering and compassionate women together.
President’s Distinguished Belle