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Julia R. Golden-Battle, MCPHS Assistant Dean of Students and Diversity and Inclusion

Staff Spotlight: Julia R. Golden-Battle, Assistant Dean of Students and Diversity and Inclusion

  • Julia R. Golden-Battle, MEd, is focused as much on listening as she is on action. She meets regularly with individual students, student organizations, faculty, and staff to hear their feedback, thoughts, and ideas for change. And she points out that we can all be better listeners.

    “Being able to listen to one another takes patience, time, and a certain level of empathy,” said Golden-Battle. “I need to not only be able to hear you, but have a sense of where you are coming from.”

    As Assistant Dean of Students and Diversity and Inclusion, Golden-Battle is tasked with empowering the members of the MCPHS community to refine their skills and competencies to ultimately foster inclusivity. And it’s her understanding of where members of the community come from that helps her do just that.

    “I have met students from all different walks of life, but what makes me a successful educator is knowing that every student is unique and has their own story,” said Golden-Battle.

    Here, Golden-Battle shares her insights into diversity and inclusion in the healthcare field; how women can succeed in STEM-related fields; and her initiative to introduce safe zone training at MCPHS, which is designed to address bias and reduce homophobia.

    What inspired you to enter the professional world of diversity and inclusion?

    My undergraduate experience was at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. For the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to reflect and think about my various identities. In reflecting, I was able to grow into being a student leader who often advocated for my peers. I realized how much I had gained from my college experience, and I wanted to give back. My goal is to be the role model I wish I had had when I was growing up. I have a certain pride in being Latina and LGBTQ+, and I want all our students at MCPHS to be proud of where they come from. I believe our students have the ability to change the pharmaceutical and medical fields, and it is important that they learn about how to work with diverse populations.

    Tell us about your role here at MCPHS. What is your mission?

    The goal of diversity and inclusion at MCPHS is to refine skills and competencies to create greater inclusion for all members of the campus community. Diversity and inclusion work is both a process and a goal involving self-reflection on how MCPHS students can impact their communities and their respective fields.

    Tell us about one of your upcoming initiatives.

    We are introducing safe zone training to all four of our campuses. Safe zone training is designed to create awareness and enhance skills related to understanding gender identity and sexuality. This training provides skills for addressing bias and reducing homophobia, and allows students, staff, and faculty to learn how to advocate for LGBTQ+ community members at MCPHS.

    At MCPHS, we have a vibrant community, made up of students from 70-plus countries. How do all our students benefit from this type of diverse and inclusive environment?

    Students have an opportunity at MCPHS to meet peers from across the world and learn about different cultures and communities. That in itself is very educational. At MCPHS, it is important that we honor one another’s cultures.

    MarketWatch published a listing, based on U.S. Department of Education data, that ranks MCPHS as the #1 university where female STEM students flourish. How can a focus on health sciences and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) help us tackle the gender pay gap?

    Our women in STEM are navigating rigorous programs and know that the fields they are entering are heavily male-dominated. I think that allowing our women in STEM to gather, talk about what they are experiencing, talk about how they will negotiate their salaries, and find role models and mentors will help them prepare for life after school. I think our clinical rotations and internships, as well as professors and the Center for Professional Career Development, are crucial in this process.

    Why is a commitment to diversity and inclusion so important in the healthcare field specifically, especially when it comes to best serving patients?

    Late last year, articles started coming out about African-American women dying during childbirth. National Public Radio covered the issue and reported that African-American women die in childbirth at three times the rate of white women. While reading that article, I thought about my students and wondered, “How do I prepare them to consider health disparities and think about how they can reduce these health disparities?” I think our Schwartz Rounds are a great place for students to hear about current research, consider best medical practices, and hear from people currently in their respective fields. I want our students to know that they do not get to pick their clients and patients, and that when they take the Hippocratic Oath, they are pledging to do no harm to their patients, so they must be aware of how to work with any patient who comes to them.

    In Massachusetts, antidiscrimination laws give transgender people the right to use public restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identities, regardless of their sex at birth. Can you tell us about how MCPHS supports our transgender students, faculty, and staff?

    Title IX is a great resource and allows for students to be treated equally regardless of their gender. One of the conversations I have seen happen in classrooms is about trans-affirmative healthcare. Many students are aware of these practices – and some are not – but it is important that we build a foundation of understanding how to use pronouns and show general respect to our transgender clients and patients. Many of our professors talk about the 4Cs and how to serve the LGBTQ+ community in terms of healthcare.

    What inspires you most about the MCPHS community?

    The faculty and staff at MCPHS are experts in their respective fields and are full of passion. Our students are dedicated and very focused, which leads them to want to be the best healthcare practitioners possible. When I teach diversity here, students will ask me about terminology, context, and case studies, and they really think about how they can intentionally communicate with communities outside their own.

    How can members of the MCPHS community reach you?

    I’m located in the Dean of Students suite, and folks can always stop by and say hi! Email is great too. You can reach me at julia.golden-battle@mcphs.edu.