Coffee with a Cause

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On Fridays the staff of the Coffee Beanery, one of the newest additions to the food and beverage outposts on the Miller School campus, don their khakis and aprons, but instead of the usual black polos, they opt for white T-shirts emblazoned with the ubiquitous “U” and information about the Miami Model for Health Professions Education.

On Fridays the staff of the Coffee Beanery, one of the newest additions to the food and beverage outposts on the Miller School campus, don their khakis and aprons, but instead of the usual black polos, they opt for white T-shirts emblazoned with the ubiquitous “U” and information about the Miami Model for Health Professions Education.

As customers come in for sandwiches, pastries and a wide assortment of specialty coffees and other beverages, the workers tell them about the health professions program and encourage them to donate to the initiative that seeks to prepare high school and college students from disadvantaged backgrounds to successfully pursue a broad array of health care professions, including that of physician.

Funds will go to the Dr. Astrid Mack Diversity Initiative—named for the Miami Model program’s former director and the Miller School’s former associate dean for minority affairs—which will help support programs in the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, including the Miami Models program, scholarships for underrepresented groups pursuing medical school, and other diversity-related initiatives. The Dr. Mack Diversity Initiative was launched with initial support from Ramona Hall, owner of the campus Coffee Beanery at 1051 NW 14th Street, near Dominion Tower.

“The Miami Model program provides a unique and valuable experience to students who attend public high school in Miami-Dade County and gives them the opportunity to explore careers in medicine,” said Hall. “As a product of the Miami-Dade County public school system, I know that it is critical to give students exposure to as many career choices as possible so they can imagine themselves becoming productive citizens in their community.”

Hall, who grew up in Germany, Japan and Miami, learned of the Miami Model for Health Professions program when she opened the coffee shop last summer and was looking to form partnerships with the community that would support her newest venture. That’s part of her business and philanthropic philosophy as the South Florida area developer/consultant for the Coffee Beanery and owner of two branches at Miami International Airport, in addition to the Miller campus shop.

Hall is involved with several nonprofits in the region, including Honey Shine Mentoring Program and Cancer Link, and especially likes to get behind programs for youth. She also funded a $2,500 scholarship in the name of her mentor, Herman J. Russell, through the United Negro College Fund for rising sophomore business majors at historically black colleges and universities.

“I believe strongly in giving back to my community and in empowering young people,” Hall said. “The medical field offers so many interesting and rewarding career paths and I want to help young people discover the many options that are open to them and feel privileged to be able to do so in the name of a man who committed so much of his life to student achievement.”

Mack, who also was a research associate professor of medicine at the Miller School, championed student diversity and was known for his dedication to steering hundreds of underrepresented minorities to Miller and other medical schools. He retired in December 2008 after 35 years of service. In November that year the Association of American Medical Colleges honored him with a Special Recognition Award.

“Mrs. Hall’s commitment to serving the community is commendable,” said Nanette Vega, the Miller School’s director for diversity and multicultural affairs who now runs the Miami Models program. “Her motivation to help us is inspiring. We are proud to have her as a partner on this very important initiative.”

For more information or to support the Miami Model for Health Professions Education program, please contact Nanette Vega at 305-243-6551, or visit www.facultyaffairs.med.miami.edu.


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