Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month 

Each year, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15, to acknowledge contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States. At Einstein, we celebrate our students, alumni, staff, and faculty of Hispanic descent who enrich our campus community with their diverse talents and accomplishments. Here, we recognize some select alumni and faculty members who have paved the way for Hispanic and Latino students in medicine and in the health sciences: Dr. Irene Blanco, Dr. Fernando Camacho, Dr. Nereida Correa, Dr. Sylvia Ramos, and Nilda I. Soto . The mentorship offered by these leaders has encouraged more people of color to pursue careers in medicine and science, helping to address the racial and ethnic health disparities that exist in our country. (Please see below to learn more about each of them.)

Nereida Correa, M.D.
Nereida Correa, M.D.

Alumna Nereida Correa (M.D. ’85) has many roles at Einstein, including obstetrics & gynecology and family and social medicine faculty member, senior advisor and founding director of our Hispanic Center of Excellence, co-director of the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program, and mentor in the Patients, Doctors, and Communities course. She was a Health and Human Services Primary Health Care Policy Fellow and has developed curricula on culture and health disparities. Dr. Correa is chair of the National Hispanic Medical Association Board and was an inaugural Leadership Fellow.

Fernando Camacho, M.D.
Fernando Camacho, M.D.

Fernando Camacho led diversity efforts at Einstein from 1984 to 1989. He has served as mentor to countless undergraduate and medical students, and as faculty advisor to the Oncology Interest Group. He is former director of the Community Oncology Section of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care, which serves those from medically underserved communities. Dr. Camacho established meditation sessions for students aimed at relieving caregiver stress, and has been recognized widely for inspiring minority students to succeed in the health professions.

Irene Blanco, M.D., M.S.
Irene Blanco, M.D., M.S.

Alumna Irene Blanco (M.D. ’04/CRTP ’10) is professor of medicine and associate dean for diversity enhancement, and oversees student diversity programs. Her research focuses on addressing health disparities and identifying the social determinants of health in rheumatology. This includes determining the use of community health workers to help increase the recruitment of patients of color into lupus clinical trials. Dr. Blanco believes bringing people from traditionally marginalized groups into medicine and supporting their development help address the needs of vulnerable patients.

Nilda I. Soto
Nilda I. Soto

Einstein's Nilda Soto Has Leadership Role with N.Y. State Minority Health Council 

Nilda I. Soto joined Einstein’s administration in 1990. As assistant dean of diversity enhancement, she administers and supervises minority student activities at the medical school, and is involved in the recruitment, admission, and retention of individuals underrepresented in medicine. She serves as director of the Einstein Enrichment Program and the Diversity Students Summer Research Opportunity Program. In 2016, the New York State Senate confirmed Ms. Soto as chair of the state’s Minority Health Council, on which she has served since 2007.

Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Ramos was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the South Bronx during childhood. Her parents encouraged her to get an education but did not direct her into any specific career. Since she planned to live at home in the Bronx, she was delighted to be accepted to Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She graduated in 1974 and got her residency training in general surgery in the joint Einstein NY City Health and Hospitals Corporation Program run by the College of Medicine at Jacobi and Lincoln hospitals.

Sylvia Ramos
Dr. Sylvia Ramos

On the faculty at Montefiore, Dr. Ramos was involved with patient care, educating students and residents, and mentoring female surgical residents. She also ran the surgical nutrition program. Later, she earned a Master’s in health services management from New York University, where she participated in the Advanced Management Program for Clinicians at the Wagner School of Public Service.

Dr. Ramos was the founding director of the first office of diversity enhancement at Einstein. In this role, she spearheaded initiatives to increase the number of underrepresented minority students at the College of Medicine, and was responsible for counseling these medical students, providing academic mentoring, and developing academic support services. Her legacy lives on today as our offices of diversity enhancement and of diversity & inclusion continue efforts to increase the number of students who have been underrepresented in medicine while fostering an environment where they can thrive.

Crossing Borders Poem
Here is one of her poems (Click to enlarge)

In the 1990s, Dr. Ramos decided it was time for a change of scenery. She moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she felt welcome into its Hispanic culture. She opened a private practice in general surgery, specializing in breast cancer care and the use of ultrasound in diagnosis. Dr. Ramos has published numerous articles in medical journals, has reviewed books for the Journal of the American Medical Association, and has served as editorial advisor and writer for the Western Journal of Medicine. She participated in the Leadership Fellowship for mid-career Hispanic physicians, and focused her training in health policy and planning. In 2001, she received the Distinguished Member Award from the Association of Women Surgeons and, in 2003, the Alumni Life Achievement Award, from Einstein’s Alumni Association.

Today, Dr. Ramos still lives in New Mexico, where she is a devoted grandmother, retired general and breast surgeon, writer, photographer, and world traveler. She is inspired by art, women’s lives, and everyday injustices. Her work is rooted in places she calls home—Puerto Rico, New York, and New Mexico. Her photographs and award-winning prose and poetry appear in local and national publications. Among these are The Medical Muse, Persimmon Tree, Malpaís Review, Journal of Latina Critical Feminism, Southwestern American Literature Journal, Sin Fronteras, Artemis Journal, and Choice Words: Writers on Abortion. Her essay “May 29, 2020: In the Year of Our Peril” was named “Best” non-fiction work in the 2020 SOMOS contest. And her multimedia collage work Railyards Trilogy: Poems and Photographs is in the city of Albuquerque’s public art collection.

Memorandum establishing the first Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Memorandum establishing the first Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Click to enlarge)

Dr. Ramos is also a children’s and women’s rights activist who is working to have the Equal Rights Amendment added to the U.S. Constitution. She is currently writing Haibun about her journeys to visit historic road markers highlighting New Mexican women. She is also researching and writing about the women’s suffrage movement in New Mexico.

The College of Medicine celebrates all of the achievements of Dr. Sylvia Ramos.

Note: Dr. Ramos is professionally known as Sylvia M. Ramos. For her creative art and writing endeavors she uses the name Sylvia Ramos Cruz. This follows the custom in Spanish-speaking cultures, whereby the mother’s last name (Cruz) is included after the father’s last name (Ramos) for a child. Because her mother had the creative spirit, Dr. Ramos includes her name in reference to her own creative endeavors.

…the primary focus of the Office’s activity is recruitment and retention of minority and disadvantaged students…

Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA)

LMSA Board Members
Current LMSA Board Members

Einstein’s Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) unites and empowers medical students through service, mentorship, and education to advocate for the health of the Latino community. Their vision is unifying medical students to promote Latino health. The priorities of LMSA are to increase the number of underrepresented minorities (URMs) in medicine, to host educational opportunities that support the Einstein community in providing sensitive, informed, and culturally competent care to Latino and underserved communities, and to enhance the social support network of Latino and other URM medical students at Einstein. Group members are made up of M.D. and MSTP (M.D./Ph.D.) students. Einstein’s LMSA will be hosting a variety of events this year to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Current LMSA Board Members:

President: Cristian Escalera
Co-Vice President (Real Talk Focus): Zaki Masoud
Co-Vice President (Community Service Focus): Lesly Sanchez Alvarez
Community Service Chair: Jose Fernandez
Community Service Chair: Abel Infante