UCSF to Honor Three with MLK Awards

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

A student who has unified the international community, a staff member who has opened doors for the disabled and a physician who is a role model for advancing diversity at UCSF will be awarded with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards in January. Three awards are given annually - to one faculty/academic member, one staff member and one student/resident/postdoctoral scholar - for extraordinary leadership in promoting and advancing mutual respect, understanding and appreciation for all types of diversity at UCSF. The recipients of the 2007 MLK awards are:
  • Hamdan Almas, a fourth-year student in the UCSF School of Pharmacy;
  • Alice Wong, a staff member at the Institute for Health & Aging and the Center for Personal Assistance Services and
  • Rene Salazar, MD, an assistant clinical professor in general internal medicine.
The campus community is invited to attend the MLK awards ceremony from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007, in the Millberry Union Gymnasium on the UCSF Parnassus campus.
Hamdan Almas

Hamdan Almas

Almas is the president of the International Students and Scholars Association (ISSA), an organization created in 2003 to provide support for the UCSF international community. In this role, Almas' efforts have resulted in bridge-building between other campus organizations, specifically the Postdoctoral Scholars Association and the Exchange, the longstanding UCSF campus organization providing support and social activities for international interns, residents, fellows, postdoctoral scholars, faculty and their family members. As a result of Almas' leadership and vision, these three groups formed a working group to sponsor an international welcome reception for the entire campus community. More than 200 people attended the most recent reception in October. This event is considered a milestone for UCSF, since it is the sole campus event created by and for international students, scholars and their family members, according to Janet Thelen Lockwood, director of UCSF Services to International Students & Scholars.

MLK Week Events at UCSF

MLK Week Events at UCSF

Celebration Concerts:

Saxophonist Bobbie "Spider" Webb will perform two free concerts on Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 17 and 18, at noon in the cafeteria at San Francisco General Hospital, 1001 Potrero Ave.

Documentary Screening:

UCSF will present a free screening of Chisolm 72: Unbought & Unbossed at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 19, in Genentech Hall, UCSF Mission Bay campus, 600 16th St.

For more information on upcoming MLK events, visit here.

"Hamdan is an inspiration to all of us, as he encourages participation in all areas of campus life encompassing academic, cultural and social missions," Lockwood wrote in a letter nominating Almas for the award. "We rely on Hamdan to mentor new international students as they arrive, as he is always eager to help students make new connections on campus." Almas also has shown exceptional leadership in developing the Muslim Students Association (MSA), which promotes mutual respect, understanding and appreciation for this underrepresented group. MSA at UCSF works with UCSF health care professionals to provide culturally and spiritually competent training programs through actively participating in classes like Spirituality and Healing offered by the School of Medicine. Shareen El-Ibiary, PharmD, BCPS, an assistant professor of clinical pharmacy in the UCSF School of Pharmacy, also wrote a letter in support of Almas. "Based on what I've seen in the past three years, Hamdan Almas exceeds the criteria listed for nominations of the MLK award. He is a charismatic, caring, hard-working and enthusiastic young man who has affected many lives positively at UCSF."
Alice Wong

Alice Wong

Wong is credited with several major accomplishments serving the disabled community at UCSF. "Through her quiet, measured and yet extremely effective leadership over the past eight years, Alice Wong has literally and figuratively opened doors for the disabled community at UCSF," wrote Diane McGee, who serves as the staff chair of the Disabilities Interest Group (DIG) at UCSF. "In so doing, she has not only encouraged, but enabled greater participation for the disabled in all aspects of campus life." Among Wong's most notable achievements are:
  • Conceiving and leading the development of the disability information and resources webpage, which provides links to resources for the disabled.
  • Conceiving and leading the development of UCSF Access, a website that describes the accessible features of the major buildings at Parnassus Heights, Laurel Heights and Mission Center.
  • Advocating for an increase from two to 11 TDDs (text telephones) for the hearing-impaired on the Parnassus campus.
  • Establishing the UCSF Disability Video Series on the Parnassus campus, a film series open to the entire campus community that shows documentaries about various disabilities, chronic illnesses and medical conditions.
  • Lobbying for and achieving the installation of low, horizontal, wheelchair-accessible buttons inside elevators on campus, as well as the posting of signs to allow those with special needs to enter elevators first.
  • Leading DIG as chair from its inception for six years until 2002.
  • Serving continuously on the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (CACDI) since its inception in 1999.
While serving on the chancellor's committee, Wong has brought notable speakers to UCSF for lunchtime presentations on a variety of disability issues. She also served on the inaugural discussion panel on culturally competent care of patients with disabilities for third-year medical students organized by medical student and fellow CACDI member Nat Gleason. "Alice Wong, through her many actions and activities on behalf of the disabled community at UCSF, has helped to make our University more inclusive and diverse," wrote McGee, an associate project manager for Capital Projects & Facilities Management. "She has brought her creativity, passion and leadership to bear in the development and implementation of new policies, procedures, programs and activities. She has not only encouraged the participation of disabled persons at UCSF, in some cases, she has actually made it possible when before it was not."
Rene Salazar

Rene Salazar

Salazar is commended for his enthusiasm and inspiration exemplifying a great passion for diversity and for serving as a role model in the Department of Medicine at UCSF. Salazar has served as chair of the Department of Medicine's Residency Diversity Committee over the past several years. He is credited with making significant progress in recruiting and admitting underrepresented minority residents in the internal medicine program. "During that time, he has worked as a tireless advocate, mentor and cheerleader for underrepresented minority residents within the department," wrote medical resident Kate Lupton, MD, in a letter nominating Salazar. "On a more personal note, as one of a very small number of Native American residents at UCSF, I have found the support and friendship offered by Dr. Salazar to be invaluable during the struggles of residency," Lupton wrote. "He keenly understands that minority residents face different challenges than their non-minority peers, and he has committed himself wholeheartedly to supporting and nurturing underrepresented residents." This year, Salazar created the department's Visiting Elective Scholarship Program to encourage students from diverse backgrounds from across the US to rotate through the various medicine electives offered to fourth-year medical students. The goals of this program are to expose students who are underrepresented in medicine to an academic internal medicine training program and promote student interest in applying to academic internal medicine training programs. Adriana Izquierdo, MD, another resident in the internal medicine program at UCSF, also is appreciative of Salazar. "For his dedication to educating our medical community about diversity, for his commitment to promoting minority house staff well-being and for his tireless efforts in minority recruitment, Rene has enriched UCSF and the lives of those fortunate enough to call this community their own," she wrote. Salazar encourages and challenges house staff or residents of color, eagerly asking for feedback and valuing their insight, she noted. "But perhaps most importantly, Rene kept people connected to the belief that advancing diversity is everyone's job," Izquierdo wrote in a letter nominating Salazar. "Rene's boundless creativity and hard work make staying connected easy. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., 'A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus.' At all levels, Rene has changed the way UCSF thinks and acts."