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New ColoradoSPH Diversity & Inclusive Excellence Scholarship Fund

Fund established to support BIPOC, LGBTQ+, first generation students

minute read

While watching events unfold across the country over recent months, Professor Dawn Comstock was left feeling like she needed to do something tangible to address the ongoing systemic racial and ethic disparities. That’s when she decided to help establish a new scholarship fund to accelerate the Colorado School of Public Health’s efforts to increase the diversity and inclusive excellence of the school’s student body.

“I wanted to do something that could have an immediate impact ‘in my home’—something that could drive change and I could watch occur right now,” Comstock said in an email to ColoradoSPH professors and leadership. “I know many of us have marched, protested, communicated our concerns to legislative representatives, utilized our expertise and national standing as public health researchers to help drive much needed discussions around effective change, but these efforts too often drive needed change slowly.”

The purpose of the ColoradoSPH Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Scholarship Fund is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity within the school. The fund will be used to provide scholarship awards for students pursuing a graduate degree at ColoradoSPH, and preference will be given to students from populations underrepresented in the school and in public health professions.

Among those encouraged to apply are students who are from underrepresented races and ethnicities, identify as LGBTQ+, first generation college students, are able-disabled, and/or are students who have faced adversity.

“In a communication at the height of the racism protests in June, I said as Dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, I want our community to look for the levers that we can pull as a school that will make a difference, and Dawn found one lever immediately,” said Jonathan Samet, dean and professor for ColoradoSPH. “I have been an academic administrator for decades and always strive to enhance diversity—this scholarship fund is a signal to our students and our community that we are serious about achieving racial and ethnic diversity in our students and faculty, and in our curriculum so that students leave with an understanding of the deep roots of the social determinants of health. I am pleased that so many gave to this important new fund.”

Comstock personally donated $1,000 to the fund and pledged to do so annually as long as she is a faculty member at ColoradoSPH. She encouraged other full professors to join her in supporting the newly established scholarship. Dean Samet provided a match to the contributions from the faculty and staff to ensure that the total would exceed $25,000, which it did. 

“The best part is that this scholarship fund was set up with the intention that all funds donated in an academic year will be disbursed to students that same academic year,” Comstock said. “Annual donations to the fund are my ongoing declaration to our student body that I am fully committed to improving diversity and inclusive excellence right here in my home, and more broadly. The students that are helped with these awards will be the future leaders of public health.”

Scholarship recipients will be selected in accordance with established procedures for merit-based and need-based scholarships and will be awarded for one academic year; students can reapply for funding. The school is putting together the application process and more information will be sent to students in the coming weeks.

For more information about how to support scholarships or details about the ColoradoSPH Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Fund, please contact Lisa Vandetty, assistant director of advancement, at lisa.vandetty@cuanschutz.edu.