Martha Alonzo-Johnsen
Mark Brown / University of St. Thomas

Podcast: DFC’s Martha Alonzo-Johnsen on Supporting Students of Color

Martha Alonzo-Johnsen, a clinical biology professor in Dougherty Family College at the University of St. Thomas, served on a “Come to Believe” podcast panel that focused on the need for workforce diversity in the health professions. The topic was “A Cure for Health Disparities: The Importance of Diversity in the Medical Field.”

Martha Alonzo-Johnsen
Martha Alonzo-Johnsen

Institutions of higher education need to encourage students of color to embrace science and enter health fields, Alonzo-Johnsen said, and that is what she said she attempts to do at Dougherty Family College.

“I hear so often at the beginning of my class … these students did not have a positive high school science experience (and once in college) they already feel like they’re not going to be good,” Alonzo-Johnsen said. “I’m trying to open them up to different ways of approaching science.”

Here are some other points Alonzo-Johnsen made:

Creating supports

“When I’m thinking about students who want to go into biology or want to go the pre-med track, we always hear the stories of ‘the weed out classes’ and how you have to survive that. We need to change that. We need to be more supportive of our students and create those supports instead of just letting them fall because we’re trying to weed them out. One of the things that we’re doing here at the Dougherty Family College is creating those supports.”

Learning from students

“We need to actually listen to what our students are saying and what they would like to see in our institutions. If we’re telling our students we’re helping you grow and learn we have to continue growing and learning as well and so instructors also have to listen to the feedback, listen to how we can improve in learning more about cultural responsiveness, learning about other cultures, trying to understand our students, as well, so that we can actually create content and hopefully create content with them.”