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Stories of Vision and Achievement in Honor of Women’s History Month

Women excel in every corner of our CU Anschutz community. Here are just a few of their stories.

minute read

Written by Staff on March 16, 2021
What You Need To Know

To celebrate Women’s History Month, here’s a sample of stories that showcase the breadth of talent, creativity and leadership among women on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

From a Miss Colorado-turned-nurse who tells fellow graduates that their mission is more important than ever to researchers developing a homegown antibody test during the COVID-19 pandemic, the depth of talent and ambition among women on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is breathtaking.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’d like to share just a sample of the stories and podcasts we’ve written and recorded in the past year showcasing the incredible women who are part of our campus community.

These women have risen to the occasion to battle not just the pandemic, but also autism, cancer and a host of other medical challenges. They champion the advancement of indigenous science and lead the effort of demanding lasting change in social justice, health equity and access to opportunity.

Please take a moment to read about and listen to these women who made 2020-21 another standout chapter in the expanding history of amazing women at CU Anschutz.




Woman Duo Creates COVID-19 Contact Tracing Program

In an effort to keep their campus safe, two women on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus joined forces in creating a program aimed at preventing COVID-19 outbreaks in their community. The model – created by Cody Coburn, RN, occupational health division manager with Environmental Health & Safety, and Olivia Zarela, a DrPH student in the Colorado School of Public Health – has gained attention from campuses across the state. Read about the SHIELD effort here.




Pregnancy, Pandemic and Career: ‘It’s Your Future and Your Family’

There is much to consider when starting a family: career, neighborhood, daycare. It gets even more complicated during a pandemic. Here is the story of three women in academia as they navigated family planning, career decisions and the pandemic.





From Selfies to Being Seen: Doctor Honors Women of Color on Front Lines

In the early days of the pandemic, when many people worried about where to find toilet paper, Sarah Rowan, MD, had deeper concerns. The sudden spotlight on frontline medical providers was great, but she noticed something was missing.

She decided to celebrate the unsung heroes of the pandemic – women of color in the healthcare profession – with a portrait project. Read about how her idea went viral.

A collage of some of the portraits appears at the top of this page





‘Multiple Ways of Knowing’: Advancing Indigenous Perspectives to Elevate Science, Communities

Indigenous research and worldviews have long been marginalized by Western science. CU Anschutz geneticist Katrina Claw, PhD, explains how integrating Indigenous approaches with Western perspectives can benefit humanity’s understanding of myriad health science challenges, from combating climate change to reducing bias. In this Q&A, learn what motivates Claw and how Indigenous people’s understanding of herbs and plants has informed many medications in use today.




CU Anschutz Scientists Launch Effort to Build COVID-19 Antibody Test

A group of women researchers at CU Anschutz played a key role in working to build a “homegrown” antibody test in the battle against the novel coronavirus. The collaborative effort involved more than 20 experts from various campus entities, including UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Instead of relying on the commercial supply line for antibody-based testing for past exposure to SARS-CoV-2, we are planning to ‘home grow’ the testing by assembling the components and using resources here on campus,” said Dara Eisner, MD, PhD. Read about the group’s groundbreaking effort and successful rollout here.




Changes Needed to Address Financial Hardship from Cancer

Until you or a loved one are facing treatment for a cancer diagnosis, you may not realize the cost associated with treatment and doctor visits. Unfortunately, the cost is continuing to rise as new treatments are discovered and patients are responsible for more of those costs, even if they have health insurance. Cathy Bradley, PhD, deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and associate dean for research at the Colorado School of Public Health, recommends conversations that will lead to patients learning about financial options and making informed choices when it comes to their cancer treatment. Read about her efforts to bring national awareness to the cost of cancer care. Listen to her research efforts to close cancer care equity gaps here.




Pandemic Packs Double Punch for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Dealing with the new world order under the invisible cloak of COVID-19 creates frustration, fear and uncertainties. For one in 54 children and their parents who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the challenge can seem insurmountable. In this podcast, Robin Gabriel’s, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist with Children’s Hospital Colorado, offers caregivers strategies for boosting resilience in kids with ASD.




CU Nursing Graduate: ‘You Are Not Just a Nurse’

When she competed in Miss Colorado in 2015, Kelley Johnson, RN, wore a gown from Craigslist that was too short for heels. So, she went barefoot. She borrowed a swimsuit and strolled out in her nursing scrubs for the talent competition, delivering a monologue she had scribbled down in the car on the way to the pageant. Learn how that monologue changed her life and elevated the power of nursing.




Running Toward Danger: CU Nursing Alumna Serves at ‘Epicenter Within the Epicenter’ of COVID-19 Crisis

Oriana Cruz, a CU Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner alumna, is one of those rare breeds who runs toward danger. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Big Apple hard last spring, Cruz immediately packed her bags. She deployed to Elmhurst Hospital, the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the COVID-19 crisis in New York City. Learn about her motivations and her experience battling the pandemic on the front lines.




Diversity Director Vows a United Front and Lasting Moves Toward Change

In this edition of the CU Anschutz 360 podcast, we talk with Regina Richards, PhD, MSW, new associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity, inclusion and community engagement at CU Anschutz, and CU medical student Stephanie Nwangwu about this inflection point in American history – the demand for lasting change in social justice, health equity and access to opportunity.