Six DoM women on what belonging means and why it matters

December 8, 2023

Inclusion 2023, the Department of Medicine's third year of inclusion-based programming, was dedicated to the theme of belonging.

Belonging is an important way that all people evaluate, interpret, and process themselves, and their lived experiences, and also as a key predictor of professional and academic success. As research by Gregory Walton (Stanford Psychology) explains, "belonging" is a person's feeling of membership in the social community and belief that they are valued and respected.

As part of the department's efforts to cultivate shared spaces for the exploration of community members' perspectives on belonging, the Diversity and Inclusion Council and the central communications team partnered to produce the Community Belonging Spotlight Series. This series offered faculty, staff, and trainees a space to explore what belonging means to them and shed light on the many diverse experiences within the DoM. 

Here's what they had to say. 

Chelsey Cabacungan

"Belonging is important because diversity is everywhere around us and it’s easy to feel isolated in places you feel you don’t fit in. Feeling a sense of belonging brings purpose to your everyday endeavors."

Tamara Dunn, MD

"Belonging lays the foundation for someone to bring their authentic self to any situation and that is when you can really thrive. Everyone deserves to bring their authentic self to work. No one should ever feel they have to hide who they are in our department. "

Katie M. Kanagawa, PhD

"I think of belonging as an essential human need (like air, shelter, safety). In order to thrive, all human beings need to feel we are full members of a larger social community that values and respects us for who we really are, and for the unique gifts and perspectives we bring to the collective table." 

Angela Marie Valdez

"I feel a strong sense of belonging at work during our monthly administrative meetings. I've always appreciated how our Assistant Division Manager, Julie Hutchinson leads with an open-minded and welcoming demeanor that truly makes all the difference in our everyday."

Nina Venegas

"In one of our daily huddles before Thanksgiving, we spoke about things we were thankful for. I lost my mother in June 2022 and I spoke of being grateful for the memories I had, which made me emotional. The sense of love and embrace that I felt from the team—just consoling, many knowing exactly how I felt—made me feel so protected and cared for..."

Manjula Bhushan Waldron

"I felt a sense of belonging when I was included in Audrey Schafer's writing for medicine group. I could freely discuss what matters to me — and why — about the topics of health and healing. I appreciated talking with others over lunch about intersectionality, which can create new ways of looking at aging."