Statement in Observance of Hispanic Heritage Month
“Immersing myself in learning about other Latin and Hispanic cultures elevated my appreciation of the rich heritage that I share with the world.” –Dr. Borrero-Mejias
Clarimar Borrero-Mejias, MD, Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce, discusses what this month means to her through her experiences, and how she aims to prioritize and infuse Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to enhance leadership and membership within the Society.
As an American citizen growing up outside of the United States (mainland), I do not recall celebrating Hispanic Heritage month with particular fervor. For me, in Puerto Rico, it was more about celebrating an insular “us.” When I moved to the mainland more than ten years ago, I became acutely aware of the sociocultural similarities and differences in my experiences compared to those who were born and raised or those who moved to this country from other Hispanic and Latin-American countries. Immersing myself in learning about other Latin and Hispanic cultures elevated my appreciation of the rich heritage that I share with the world. It is no longer an insular “us” but a global “us.” It is through identifying what unites us and what distinguishes us that I’ve grown. In this process of exploration and growth, I have learned that many Hispanic/Latinx patients and families in the US don’t speak English and their educational and socioeconomic status is an additional barrier to accessing equitable health care.
Consequently, I have embraced the opportunity to help my patients and families overcome these barriers by providing excellent care, communicating with patients in their native language, and advocating for the socioeconomic support they need and deserve. It is one of my greatest satisfactions and a privilege that I may not have experienced or recognized had I not moved to the US. With that, I believe that the impact of an individual’s efforts can be a catalyst to impact the lives of many people with headache disorders and other neurological disorders when we commit to collaborating.
As Co-Chairs of the AHS DEI Task Force, Dr. Cynthia Armand, Dr. Rebecca Wells, and I have had the privilege to work with talented and committed AHS members. Our mission is to Prioritize and Infuse Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to enhance the leadership and membership of the AHS, provide equitable care and improve the lives of people with headache disorders. Through this collaboration, we have studied the ins and outs of our organization’s leadership, membership, and structure. We have identified opportunities for continued growth, and we have researched best practices for the development and implementation of DEI initiatives. To fulfill our organization’s mission and to support our members’ needs, we must attempt to fill in gaps in our knowledge about the demographic composition of our membership. Thus, in collaboration with the DEI TF, the AHS Membership Committee encourages all members to complete the AHS Demographic Survey. It takes less than 1 minute to answer this anonymous survey, so I encourage you and all members to take a minute and tell us who you are!
The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” She also said, “We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to society, because we fit into a certain mold.” I am optimistic that the American Headache Society will continue breaking molds and creating spaces for everyone!
Clarimar Borrero-Mejias, MD
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital