School of Nursing workshop addresses working with people of diverse backgrounds
School of Nursing students Joel Cerna and Patty Garrido share their thoughts on diversity with José Vicente Rojas, MA, director of the office of young adult ministries, North American Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Working effectively with others whose background may be different from your own was the topic for the School of Nursing diversity workshop, held November 9 in Wong Kerlee International Conference Center.
“In today’s society, nurses are expected to interact with patients of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds,” says Ramona Perez Greek, PhD, RN, assistant professor of nursing, School of Nursing, and chair of the diversity committee for the School of Nursing. “We want to encourage each other to live out the mission of this University and School: to make humanity whole by valuing and embracing the differences that God in His wisdom created.”
The workshop began with a welcome from Helen King, PhD, RN, former dean of the School of Nursing; Leslie Pollard, DMin, MBA, vice president for diversity, Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center; and Lisa Beardsley, PhD, MPH, vice chancellor of academic affairs.
Kent Hansen, Esq., general counsel for Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, presented a brief devotional, which was followed by special music from the Diversity Student Choir.
A special award was presented by Idaura Murillo-Rohde, PhD, RN, FAAN, founder of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. Dr. Murillo-Rohde honored Vaneta Condon, PhD, and Charlie Jo Morgan, PhD, two professors who have been key in supporting diversity programs for the School of Nursing.
The Success in Learning Individualized Pathway Program (SLIPP) and Pipeline to Registered Nursing (PRN) program have encouraged many nurses of diverse ethnic backgrounds to attend the School of Nursing. Both of these programs have received media attention.
José Vicente Rojas, MA, director of the office of young adult ministries, North American Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, was the featured speaker for the workshop.
Mr. Rojas spoke on how to be a servant in every part of life: a learner, a servant, and a leader.
“The word ‘diversity’ has sensitive connotations to some people,” says Dr. Perez Greek. “It takes a speaker who understands this sensitivity, and can speak through it in powerful ways to engage change as it is needed. José is the kind of person who can do that.”
Mr. Rojas leads two ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. He serves as the director of volunteer ministries, and director of the office of young adult ministries for the North America Division (NAD), at the office of the Secretariat. His work leads him to bring together Church institutional and supportive organizations for shared goals, including: student missions, taskforce missions, literacy programs, community projects, Bible work, evangelism, and a host of other outreach activities.
The young adult ministries network in North America includes Adventist public campus ministries, Adventist campus ministries, and the Connect Network, the official NAD organization of empowered Adventist young adults.
As part of his diversity initiatives, Mr. Rojas serves as a member of the United States national organization, the Alliance for Youth, founded by General Colin Powell, resulting in more than 100 Adventist tutoring sites for underprivileged children in 32 cities in the United States, Canada, and Bermuda. He has also worked with the White House over several years, assisting two presidents of the United States with domestic policy initiatives for humanitarian leadership.
An accomplished musician and recording artist, Mr. Rojas is also an author and a passionate preacher of the Word. He holds an honoris causa doctor of divinity degree from Southwest Adventist University, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in religion from Loma Linda University. His numerous honors include the Maryland Governor’s Citation for leadership in community action and the privilege of carrying the official Olympic Torch into Washington, D.C., as the flame made its journey to the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996.
According to Dr. Perez Greek, our thoughts lead to our actions. It is when people have thinking that is stereotypical and feelings that are prejudiced, that discriminatory actions (even though they may not be deliberate in intent) may follow.
“Ethnic cultures tend to have ethnocentric thinking ‘my way is the best way,’” says Dr. Perez Greek.
“Providing opportunities to speakers who challenge this thinking can enable us to authentically take the journey into self-awareness. Only through this journey of self-examination can we begin to undo our limiting ways of thinking, and begin to move toward building productive relationships with all types of people.”
By Dustin R. Jones, MA