Growing Latinx community in the School of Medicine

School of Medicine students Christopher Ponce Campuzano, left, and Luis Francisco Diaz, right, joined Latino community and OHSU leaders at Latino Networks’ annual Noche Bella gala in September.

Christopher Ponce Campuzano and Luis Francisco Diaz met at a Center for Diversity and Inclusion event while applying to OHSU in October 2018 and soon discovered what they had in common. Both young men made their way to medical school through a combination of brains, grit and the dedication of their parents and mentors after their families left Mexico for the U.S. when Diaz and Campuzano were children.

A year later, they were thrilled to reconnect at the White Coat ceremony as incoming students. Now Diaz, who is in the M.D./Ph.D. program, and Campuzano, in the M.D. program, are friends and regular study mates. As part of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), they joined the OHSU table at the Noche Bella Gala for the Latino Network, one of Oregon’s largest Latino advocacy organizations.

Diaz and Campuzano are part of a small but growing number of Latino students and faculty building community in the School of Medicine. More than six percent of residents and of graduate students and more than eight percent of the incoming M.D. Class of 2023 identify as Hispanic or Latino. Three percent of faculty in the school do. View school statistics.

From left, Damon Lerma, Blake Benneville and Madi Egan, M.D. Class of 2022, participated in the Spanish elective launched by the Latino Medical Student Association.

“It’s been really inspiring to see our Latino students develop their voices, contribute their experiences and perspectives and share their cultures,” said Leslie Garcia, assistant chief diversity officer for OHSU, who works closely with student affinity groups. “And the extent to which our program leaders are leaning in to support their efforts has been great.”

The Latino Medical Student Association is especially making an impact. The student interest group pioneered a 10-week Spanish elective in the M.D. program, which wrapped up Sept. 10. The final included a standardized patient encounter in Spanish.

Members of the Latino Medical Student Association speak out against inhumane treatment of families at the Mexican border.

“It was a special and rewarding moment for us teaching assistants, students, and standardized patients,” posted Erin Urbanowicz, co-chair of the Latino Medical Student Association. “Shout out to all the people at the SIM Center and Dr. Tracy Bumsted for the support needed to make this final encounter happen!”

Other LMSA activities have included speaking out against the inhumane treatment of migrant families at the Mexican border and joining the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in visiting migrant farm worker camps to provide blood pressure checks and health education. (See featured photo)