Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Trenika Mitchell, PharmD, BCPS
Associate Professor and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
Dr. Mitchell's practice site is at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center where she works as a pediatric clinical staff pharmacist in the Kentucky Children's Hospital Pharmacy. She co-coordinates and facilitates the Institutional Module in all six semesters of the Patient-centered Care Experience (PaCE) Lab and coordinates the Pharmaceutical Calculations portion of PaCE in the first year student Fall semester. She also teaches various diversity and inclusion topics throughout the pharmacy curriculum.
Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
Chairs Academy 1, University of Kentucky
Humanity Academy, University of Kentucky
PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Residency, UK Healthcare
Doctor of Pharmacy, University of Mississippi
Bachelor of Science, University of Mississippi
Associate of Applied Sciences, Northeast Mississippi Community College
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement
I grew up in a small town where most people looked the same and that sameness was not the way I looked. Those differences in outward appearance gave me the opportunity to see the very best and very worst of people. While some uttered words of hate and held pre-conceived notions of my personal worth and what I could or could not achieve, others embraced and encouraged, anonymously paid for school supplies or organization fees, or, when our family was at our lowest, bought us food and Christmas gifts. I chose my profession, academia and pharmacy, due to the mentorship of an amazingly giving couple of a different race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and educational background than anyone in my family. The couple was comprised of my middle school gifted teacher while the other, a pharmacist, and I still call them multiple times a week to this day.
These experiences, coupled with my faith, have given me a great capacity to love, respect, and desire to see and cultivate the success of all people. Every person has great value and can positively contribute to a profession, project, or conversation due to his/her unique life experiences. Diversity of thought is the key to success of any task, but it cannot be achieved without diversity of its people. Furthermore, the diversity of the group is pointless if each person’s ideas are not respected and heard. Diversity must always be accompanied by inclusion.
My career has been a story of diversity and inclusion. I strongly believe that a person cannot become or achieve something that he/she cannot see. Therefore, I am heavily involved in mentoring young people via community organizations and volunteering in K-12 schools. I challenge students to think beyond their current circumstances because I, too, was a first-generation college student. I, too, was poor. I, too, suffered prejudice due to the color of my skin. Yet, persistence, education, and the ability to see what could be rather than what was allowed me to change my life’s path and change my future.
It is also pivotal to continually engage and support students once they begin their pursuit of higher education or additional technical training. I am firmly committed to mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in historically marginalized groups while still faithfully keeping my doors open for all students in need of words of encouragement, advice, or a small dose of humor. It can be easy to become so focused on being inclusive that students of the majority are inadvertently excluded. We must be deliberate in our actions to ensure everyone is welcome.
Finally, here is an enlightening verse from Maya Angelou’s poem, Human Family. “I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more, alike my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” There is beauty in our “unalikeness,” and it can be used to make any institution, classroom, or friend circle stronger and better. However, the key to harmoniously living, working, and thriving together is to embrace our differences while simultaneously remembering that we, as human beings, share many interests, motivations, values, and desires. As I learned years ago while sitting at the dining room table with my teacher and pharmacist mentors, people are alike at their core and amazing, life-changing things happen when they come together.
We wish to remember and honor those who inhabited this Commonwealth before the arrival of the Europeans. Briefly occupying these lands were the Osage, Wyndott tribe, and Miami peoples. The Adena and Hopewell peoples, who are recognized by the naming of the time period in which they resided here, were here more permanently. Some of their mounds remain in the Lexington area, including at UK’s Adena Park.
In more recent years, the Cherokee occupied southeast Kentucky, the Yuchi southwest Kentucky, the Chickasaw extreme western Kentucky and the Shawnee central Kentucky including what is now the city of Lexington. The Shawnee left when colonization pushed through the Appalachian Mountains. Lower Shawnee Town ceremonial grounds are still visible in Greenup County.
We honor the first inhabitants who were here, respect their culture, and acknowledge the presence of their descendants who are here today in all walks of life including fellow pharmacists and healthcare professionals.