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Ida Gray Award Winner- Guneet Kohli

March 2, 2016
DEI Day 2016-15

My Yang and Guneet Kohli


Nomination for the Ida Gray Award
Nominee: Guneet Kohli
Nominator: My Yang

Guneet Kohli exemplifies the very essence of the definition and meaning of diversity. Her charisma, leadership, and collaboration skills have certainly highlighted the University of Michigan School of Dentistry’s efforts to push the boundaries of breaking down barriers to inclusion and understanding.

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Guneet is a first-generation Sikh American from a very diverse family. Her mother is from New Delhi, India, and her father, Tehran, Iran. She has an older and younger sister, and will be the very first in her family to earn a professional degree. With such a diverse family background, Guneet has always viewed diversity as an important extension of her identity. Even before arriving in Michigan to attend dental school, she has dedicated most of her early college career to diversity initiatives. Since her time at UCLA, she has been active in the Sikh community, easily dedicating over 1000 hours volunteering, counseling, and inspiring other first-generation Sikh Americans to pursue higher education. Furthermore, in the practice of what it means to be inclusive, she has also dedicated her time to individuals with disabilities at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Camp in San Francisco, and the YMCA Easter Seals Camps in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Since her first year as a dental student, Guneet has been an active member of the Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) as a student representative of her class. She has participated in efforts to encourage collaboration between the many diverse groups within the school by being a core member in MAC sub-committees, in events such as the Women’s Tea event. As a member of the Hispanic Student Dental Association she has participated in the oral health education and screening of migrants workers in Blissfield, MI, as well as the Latino Connection, a Latino Undergraduate Recruitment Fair at the University of Michigan. As a member of other organizations here at the dental school, Guneet has been active in other dimensions of diversity. She has participated in the Mens’ Health Fair at Washtenaw Community College, the Special Smiles Special Olympics in Mt. Pleasant, MI, and the American Medical Association’s Women’s Health & Fitness Day in Ann Arbor, to name a few. Her Health Care Delivery (HCD) Project with Dr. Wilhelm Piskorowski has lead to promising efforts towards a student led dental clinic for girls age 11-18 who are residents at Vista Maria or neighboring foster care centers. These girls are unfortunate victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, physical trauma, abuse, or neglect. Through her creativity and perseverance, her HCD project has produced a powerful movement in encouraging open discussions of other groups of diversity that are often forgotten in the dental community, and therefore often lack access to oral health education and care.

Guneet’s talents and commitment to diversity has not gone unnoticed. She has attended many ADEA annual regional and national meetings to broaden her own knowledge and understanding of dental education/academia as a whole. In 2015, she was nominated to attend the ADEA Student Diversity Leadership Program in Boston, MA, and just recently, she attended the U-M Diversity Summit here in Ann Arbor, MI.  These events have provided her with the education and training required to not only encourage dialog among different groups/organizations but also raise awareness among her peers regarding the meaning of diversity and inclusion. In the summer of 2015, she became a mentor to the School of Dentistry’s Profile for Success Program, an enrichment summer program for students with diverse and underrepresented minority backgrounds.

As I think about the meaning of diversity and inclusion, and how it impacts the environment of our school, the students that we teach, the teachers that we learn from, and the patients that we treat, I can not think of another individual more deserving of the Ida Gray Award. She has demonstrated a life-long commitment to diversity and continues to do so to this day, enriching the lives of individuals from all kinds of background. I nominate Guneet Kohli for the 2016 Ida Gray Award.

Nominator My Yang Bio:
I was born in Fresno, CA, and have since lived in Michigan since 1999. I grew up in a very diverse family, originating in Thailand and Laos.
I started my college career at a community college, before transferring to Michigan State University for my Bachelor’s Degree. As a result of my upbringing, I am very active in diversity and community health initiatives. Currently, I am a D4 with plans after graduation to begin a one year AEGD program at Detroit Mercy. I am passionate about working and serving in underserved communities, with hopes of increasing access to oral heath education and dental care.


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