Elah Alcuitas is a junior Biomedical Sciences and Biochemistry major from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Elah has been very active at SWOSU in campus and community-based projects. Elah has served as vice president for the SWOSU Honors Association and has served as a research assistant in the Biology Department. She is committed not only to her academic pursuits, but volunteer and support organizations. Elah incorporates her STEM expertise to assist the local Agape Free Medical Clinic, the Remote Area Medical Clinic, and the SAGE STEAM Camp, a cohort of middle school girls interested in STEM. Her focus on social issues has been the impetus for her work with a local elementary school reading program and the Weatherford Recycling Center. To promote student awareness of social justice issues, Elah is active in the Student Government Association and has founded a new student organization on campus, the Student Diversity League. Elah’s mentor is Dr. Rickey Cothran, Chair of Biological Sciences.
Social equality’s greatest enemy is ignorance. The exacerbation of our society’s poor treatment of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) by the COVID-19 pandemic made this stark truth apparent. Violence against Asian-Americans spiked, Black Lives Matter (BLM) called attention to police brutality disproportionately affecting the black community, and the impact of systemic racism and bias in healthcare became painfully apparent. These circumstances are perpetuated by ignorance and complacency. To create student awareness of social inequalities while providing opportunities to address these issues, I worked with student organizations and founded the Student Diversity League, which led campus efforts to fundraise for BLM. I reached out to the Biology Department and Premed Committee Heads to begin educating our future healthcare workers on racial discrimination in their fields and the experiences of BIPOC patients/healthcare workers. I volunteer at the free Agape Clinic and organize opportunities for members of organizations I lead to contribute to the underprivileged by coordinating with our local Food & Resource Center, elementary school, and hospice volunteering programs. In the future, I plan to apply to MD/MBA programs to directly address healthcare socioeconomic inequalities. Currently, I continue to educate others, because societal change starts with awareness in its individuals.