Gakumo named 2017 President's Diversity Champion Award winner

Associate professor honored for focus on diversity, inclusion in her teaching, research and service
By Jimmy Creed

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Associate Professor C. Ann Gakumo, PhD, RN, is one of four individuals and one student organization recently honored as 2017 UAB President’s Diversity Champions Award winners.

This annual award recognizes employees, students and organizations that have helped create a more culturally diverse, inclusive university community through their achievements. Nominations are solicited from the UAB community for all categories, and awards are given in each of five categories for projects or activities that best reflect the implementation of unit and/or campus diversity goals. 

UAB President Ray Watts, MD, and Gakumo’s colleagues in the School believe she is a shining example of those criteria.

“Diversity has long been a core value and strength of UAB, and has been integral to our growth as a world-renowned university and academic medical center,” Watts said. “The President’s Diversity Champions epitomize UAB’s deep commitment to diversity with their passionate and impactful efforts to foster an inclusive environment where all of our students, faculty and staff — representing roughly 100 countries and many different ethnicities, backgrounds and perspectives—have the opportunity to thrive and excel.”

Gakumo called it a “tremendous honor” to win the award.

“I incorporate diversity and inclusion in the work I do, whether it is my research, my teaching or my service,” Gakumo said. “To be recognized in this fashion for the success I have had gives me a huge sense of accomplishment.”

Gakumo was the faculty category honoree for a number of diversity initiatives she has been or continues to be involved in across several different arenas. Those include:

• Addressing health disparities among older African American adults living with HIV. Gakumo’s research is focused on promoting health literacy and medication adherence in this population.  Her research team is inclusive of individuals who represent patients living with HIV, including older adults, African Americans and members of the LGBTQ community. Gakumo is also the former vice chair of the Board of Directors for Birmingham AIDS Outreach (BAO), the oldest AIDS service organization in the state of Alabama, and currently serves on the organization’s Advisory Board. As part of her involvement with BAO, she has marched alongside patients, stakeholders and others in Montgomery to advocate for equal access to care and treatment for individuals with HIV.
• Serving as program faculty for the School’s Enrichment Academy for Nursing Services (EANS) program. As part of a Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Workforce Diversity Grant that sought to increase the number of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)-prepared nurses from disadvantaged and historically underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds, Gakumo served as mentor to many students in the EANS program. She has also mentored more than 40 diverse students in the fields of nursing, medicine, psychology, social work and public health in addition to her work with the EANS program.

Gakumo diversity award 2 RTDr. Ann Gakumo, center, is extremely grateful to Dr. Maria Shirey, left, and Dr. Karen Meneses, for their support of her work and their continued interest in her success as a member of the UAB School of Nursing faculty. • Co-leading a national webinar sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program to raise awareness in the academic community of the issue of the brown tax. The brown tax is the notion that faculty of color are often asked to take on multiple service roles in diversity and, as a result of these obligations, many are often disproportionally burdened due to efforts to achieve diversity and inclusion. “Moving forward, I would definitely like to play a role in bringing further awareness about the brown tax to UAB and strategies to address it,” Gakumo said.

Gakumo expressed her gratitude to Maria Shirey, PhD, MBA, MS, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FACHE, FAAN, chair of the Acute, Chronic and Continuing Care Department, who nominated her for the award, and her mentor, Professor and Associate Dean for Research Karen Meneses, PhD, RN, FAAN, a member of UAB’s Equity Leadership Council.

“I can’t stress enough just how much it means to have the support of your chair and your mentor in terms of ensuring your success,” Gakumo said.  “For any early- or mid-level career faculty member, having a supportive chair and mentor who advocate for you and have a vested interest in your success is phenomenal.”

Gakumo is also proud that the award and her career accomplishments reflect so brightly one of the School’s core values.

“At the UAB School of Nursing we pride ourselves in diversity,” Gakumo said. “I am very fortunate to be in a place that is nurturing and supportive of diversity initiatives and the work I’m able to do.

“It’s one of our core values, so my being recognized as a Diversity Champion and a leader in this area I believe is truly a reflection of how highly diversity and inclusion are valued within our School.”

Gakumo earned her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from the School in 2009.
Read 6165 times Last modified on March 19, 2019

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