Two OUWB Class of 2025 students receive Diversity & Inclusion Student Excellence Awards
An image of Kevin Van and Fanny Huang
Kevin Van and Fanny Huang, both rising M3s, each were recognized at OUWB’s 2023 Honors Convocation.

Two OUWB medical students recently were each awarded the 2023 Diversity & Inclusion Student Excellence Award.

Kevin Van and Fanny Huang, both rising M3s, each were recognized at OUWB’s 2023 Honors Convocation.

The award is among the many initiatives led by OUWB’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DEIC).

Tonya Bailey, Ph.D., associate dean, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Community Engagement, said recipients “have demonstrated a sustained commitment to foster the health of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.”

“Recipients of this award exemplify outstanding efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion through their achievement and leadership, professionalism, service scholarship, (and) going above and beyond what is expected of them,” she said.

‘A great honor’

An image of a student pouring a smoothie
Huang during a Know Your Foods event held in 2022 at the demonstration kitchen at Corewell Health Beaumont Troy Hospital.

For Huang, the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion trace to when she was a youngster, growing up in Cleveland.

She said the combination of coming from a low-income background and being the daughter of Chinese immigrant parents helped her understand the importance of healthy eating.

As a future physician, Huang said she wants to help others have the same understanding.

While at OUWB, Huang has been involved in helping launch Know Your Foods, a student organization dedicated to helping medical students better understand nutrition for both themselves and patients.

She also has been involved in the Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group, serving on its executive board.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important aspects of both groups, she said.

“My goals in working with both organizations are to educate my peers about different lifestyle options…and really catering to culturally sensitive backgrounds,” said Huang. 

Huang said her interest in the topic is why she graduated from Case Western University with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional biochemistry.

Further, she was involved in Food Recovery Network and did a lot of research on the topic of cancer and diabetes, along with gastrointestinal cancer.

To her, the definition of diversity continues to evolve.

“I feel like right now diversity means asking ‘What is your approach to the patient population you want to treat?’” she said.

Eventually, said Huang, she hopes to be the kind of physician that not only cares for patients, but one who “works to empower them.”

She called it a “great honor” to receive the diversity award.

‘A nice feeling’

An OUWB student talks with attendees of Pride 22 in Ferndale.
Van at the 2022 Ferndale Pride event. 

Van said he approaches “everything in life through the lens of diversity and inclusion.”

Like Huang, it goes back to how he grew up. For Van, it was with three older sisters in Denver, where he would eventually become a first-generation college student who earned an undergraduate degree from University of Colorado at Denver.

Van watched his father be diagnosed with liver cell carcinoma, and struggle to receive adequate health care.

It all inspired Van to not only become a doctor, but one who is committed to driving change in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  He was drawn to OUWB because he felt the school aligned with what’s important to him.

“The school really values diversity and students who come from a background like mine,” he said. “It values students who have these sort of experiences and perspectives on life... the effect they can have on patients.”

At OUWB, Van has been involved in numerous organizations and events that promote diversity, including: leading efforts to create the school’s first Pride Week; serving as a senator for OUWB Medical School Government; on the executive boards for student organizations Queers & Allies and Harm Reduction Alliance; and co-chair of the school’s DEIC Enhancement Strategies subcommittee.

Van also led the effort to create the school’s first Diversity Week — a project he hopes will become a regular part of the year at OUWB, and of which he is particularly proud.

“It’s nice to be the person to help promote other populations and students who also have an identity and voice,” he said.

With regard to being a recipient of a 2023 Diversity & Inclusion Student Excellence Award, Van called it nice to receive an award for things he would be doing either way.

“It’s definitely a nice feeling to be recognized for just doing the things you care about, and for just being yourself,” he said.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.