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GHSU opens dialogue with first Diversity Summit

Diversity Summit

GHSU hosted a Diversity Summit Thursday afternoon at the Kroc Center. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 4, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday August 4, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It's a chance to open the floor and talk about diversity, and Thursday dozens of people joined in.

GHSU's Diversity Summit is about different people, from all kinds of groups, coming together to improve their organizations and the world we live in.

Fourth-year medical student Peter Hanna considers Georgia Health Sciences University a diverse campus.

"I can tell you there are students from all over the state, from all walks of life," Hanna said.

And he can tell you why diversity is such an important part of medicine.

"It better prepares you to be a more global physician to deal with people of different backgrounds and it helps to relate to what your future practice might look like," he said.

And this is just one of many reasons why GHSU held its first Diversity Summit.

"Our students, our staff, our patients do better when they have experiences that are shared in a broad perspective," said Dr. Kent Guion, VP of Diversity and Inclusion at GHSU. "The better your understanding is of the person you're relating to, the better the outcome."

Dozens of educators, business owners and community members came together Thursday to learn a thing or two about diversity.

"You're going to meet someone different, you're going to meet someone from a different stance of life, so the better you can communicate and connect with people the better you can be a doctor, you can be an educator, you can be whatever your stance or your occupation is," said Dr. Stacie Williams, director of Intercultural Programs at USC Aiken.

"It really is about getting some strategies and looking at ways for us to advance this mission that we all share together," Guion said.

Experts say most people have a hard time even recognizing the diversity that's all around each one of us.

"It's like a fishbowl, you don't think about the water that you're in," Williams said. "It's a continuing process, you can never sit and be just complacent in what you have. You have to continue to work towards greatness."

Which is exactly what med students like Hanna hope to do. By making his school, his community and eventually, his world a better place.

The Diversity Summit was held at the new Kroc Center in Augusta. Organizers thought its open door policy and diverse attraction was the perfect place to open the dialogue.

The plan is to make the summit an annual event. Thursday there were speakers from all over the state that came and participated. They hope the event can continue to grow and only get bigger from here.

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