Latinx Association for Health, Science raises awareness to expand focus

DEI Chair Alanis Robles presents a diversity, equity and inclusion workshop at Bitty and Beau's Coffee. Photo courtesy of Alanis Robles

By Sarah Gallaher | Staff Writer

The Latinx Association for Science and Health at Baylor supports members of the Latinx and Hispanic communities pursuing a degree in healthcare, and the organization also focuses on cultural awareness and “strives to increase cultural competency in hopes of inspiring more diversity and inclusivity at Baylor University.”

This year, however, LASH is focusing on all aspects of DEI, not just culture.

“I feel like [culture] is the first thing you think of when you think of DEI… so I wanted to do something else, like talk more about disabilities and not just so much about race,” Fort Worth sophomore and DEI chair Alanis Robles said.

LASH hosted a diversity, equity and inclusion workshop at Bitty and Beau’s Coffee last week that was led by members of LASH and Bitty and Beau’s employees, emphasizing the importance of including disabilities in conversations about DEI.

Although the organization caters to Latinx and Hispanic students, Robles hopes LASH will expand its horizons to focus on learning more about others too.

“Before this year, LASH tended to focus more on diversity within us — Hispanics, ourselves — that was our main focus,” Robles said. “It wasn’t until this year when we added the DEI chair that we were able to start taking a different route.”

With the inclusion of the DEI chair, LASH will continue spreading Hispanic culture while also providing opportunities for members to learn more about other backgrounds. Robles said she wants members to celebrate all aspects of diversity, not just culture.

Robles, along with LASH’s leadership team, organized the DEI workshop at Bitty and Beau’s to highlight the importance of including people with disabilities in conversations around DEI.

“As the DEI chair, I wanted to take a different kind of route and make each one of the events be targeted toward different sectors of DEI,” Robles said.

The event began with a brief introduction to the history of Bitty and Beau’s, led by Manager Mark Sauer. Bitty and Beau’s, which opened its Waco location in November 2021, offers employment opportunities for people with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Since Bitty and Beau’s emphasizes the importance of DEI by employing people with disabilities, it was a great location to learn more about DEI, according to San Antonio senior and LASH President Diego Ortiz.

“Bitty and Beau’s hires people with disabilities, and that falls under DEI, but it’s often ignored. People don’t talk about it as much as, like, culture, race or skin color,” Ortiz said.

Following Sauer’s portion on the history of Bitty and Beau’s, Olivia Serr, an employee at Bitty and Beau’s, spoke about her experience as a person with a disability. Robles said that listening to the experiences of others, like Serr, is the best way to learn more about DEI.

To conclude the event, Robles held a presentation on disability employment in healthcare and the benefits of increasing employment opportunities within the field. Robles said that throughout medical school, many students develop some sort of disability and have trouble receiving accommodations.

The DEI workshop taught students how to apply what they learned about disabilities to their everyday lives, work and studies in the medical field.

“Every person is unique—each person has their own characteristics, their own values, their own morals, their own background, where they come from, who they are, what they like, what they don’t like,” Robles said. “We have the responsibility of diversity, of also getting to know our peers, the person right next to us.”