The University of New Mexico Native Health Initiative staff recently were recently notified they are to be the recipients of the of one of this year’s recipients Inaugural Presidential Luminaries Awards. The awards will be held April 30 to honor committed individuals and groups that have impacted the University of New Mexico with their work in diversity and social justice.

“We are proud to say that your efforts were recognized by a group of colleagues and a selection committee that viewed you as a true “luminaria” or someone who has lighted the path for diversity and social justice,” Jozi De Leon, Ph.D., vice president for equity and Inclusion, wrote in the awards letter.

In New Mexico, luminarias are used to “light the way” and the word means “a body that gives light” or an “a person of prominence or brilliant achievement.” The Luminarias Awards are designed to recognize individuals or organizations that have “lit the path in areas of diversity, equity, inclusion or social justice. Award recipients’ work demonstrated an exemplary commitment to addressing diversity, equity, inclusion, or social justice at the University of New Mexico, whether through the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups, teaching, research and/or service, multicultural or cultural programming, creating cultural competence, social justice activities, community outreach or other similar activities.

The Native Health Initiative (www.lovingservice.us) is a partnership to address inequities in health through loving service that began with a community meeting in North Carolina in 2005, where health professions students and Tribal leaders sat together to design the partnership. Loving service, not money, funds NHI's work, which includes fall/spring/summer internships, the Indigenous Health Leadership Institute (happening April 9-11), and many collaborative projects with Tribes, schools, community organizations, health professionals, and health professions students.

The UNM Health Sciences Center Office of Diversity has worked closely with the NHI since Initiative’s beginning in New Mexico in 2008. Other UNM HSC entities within NHI:UNM Physicians Assistant program, Student Nursing Association, American Medical Student Association, BA/MD Program, UNM School of Medicine (specifically the PIE program), Society of Native American Medical Students, Southwest Indian Law Clinic Lunches covering topics such as Navajo philosophy on life and sacred/ceremonial uses of tobacco have generated great interest on UNM’s north campus.

Many of the UNM first year medical students will also be serving as NHI Interns, working on American Indian health projects for the community project requirement of their PIE rotation. The awards will be made for the first time at the Diversity Celebration and Fundraising Dinner on Friday, April 30, 2010. Tickets for the event are available at http://unmdiversitydinner.eventbrite.com. Tickets for the dinner/dance are $50 per person.


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322