Santiago Acero-Bedoya, Advisor Thomas F. Gajewski in Cancer Biology, has been awarded the UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board (DAB) 2021 Diversity Award. The intention of the Diversity Awards is to recognize, honor, and celebrate the significant campus and community contributions of underrepresented/historically marginalized graduate students at the University of Chicago that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
In his first two years, Santiago has demonstrated himself to be not only a talented scientist, but also an emerging champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Santiago is a part of multiple initiatives on campus such as the Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) and the Graduate Recruitment Initiative Team (GRIT), and additionally served as the first representative from the Biological Sciences Division (BSD) to become a student ambassador in the UChicagoGRAD office.
Within these roles Santiago helped create programing for first year IMSD scholars to enhance their graduate experience during the pandemic, served as the Biomedical cluster representative for GRIT attending various virtual conferences to recruit talented URM students, and personally aided numerous prospective students navigate and prepare their graduate school applications while also serving on multiple graduate school information sessions.
Santiago also serves as co-chair of the admissions and recruitment committees within his graduate program, the Committee on Cancer Biology (CCB). He took it upon himself to connect with over a dozen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSI's) in order to circulate a brochure for his program and recruit talented underrepresented minority (URM) students. Moreover, he worked with the Dean of Graduate Affairs to ensure that any prospective student applying from an HBCU or MSI would receive an application fee waiver to incentivize and lower barriers for URM students interested in pursuing graduate education in the BSD. Furthermore, Santiago helped identify talented URM students in the admissions and recruitment process for CCB by reading applications and interviewing students.
Outside of the University, Santiago has similarly been involved in DEI focused work. He volunteered as a tutor with Tutoring Chicago during his first year and has been involved with multiple efforts aimed at community outreach. For example, he helped purchase and transport goods for the graduate student organized Vaccine Drive in the South Side of Chicago as well as canvasing in order to spread the word about the event and vaccine awareness overall.
Santiago has been working tirelessly to improve his surrounding communities all while striving for academic excellence, as evidenced by his being awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRFP). It is no doubt that Santiago will continue to strive to successfully impact scientific, academic, and local commmunities.