Black History Month Honored with Several Cross-Campus Events

The University commemorated healthcare figures, celebrated culture

  • AZ - Glendale
  • IL - Downers Grove
Members of the National Optometric Association chapter celebrate Black History Month with a variety of cultural food.

The Midwestern University chapter of the National Optometric Association (NOSA) hosted a Black History Month celebration with cultural food and information for attendees. From left to right: Giacomo Cilliani (CCO ’25), Brooke Major (CCO ’25), Hana Tulemat (CCO ’25), Oluwatobi Folaju (CCO ’25), Parres Wright, O.D., FAAO, Associate Professor, CCO, NOSA faculty advisor.

Midwestern University paid tribute to Black History Month with several events on the Downers Grove, IL, and Glendale, AZ, campuses to raise awareness about the month, promote culture, and feature prominent current and historical community members.

In Downers Grove, posters of several important figures were displayed throughout the Commons in February, among them healthcare professionals with a variety of notable accomplishments: William G. Anderson, D.O., the first Black president of the American Osteopathic Association; Roselynn Payne Epps, M.D., MPH, MA, the first Black president of the American Medical Women’s Association; and Patricia Bath, M.D., first woman ophthalmologist to join the University of California faculty at the Los Angeles School of Medicine Jules Stein Eye Institute and the inventor of the Laserphaco Probe, a device for cataract surgery. Other featured individuals showed Black leaders in science, art, media, and athletics. In Littlejohn Hall, a Black History Month display showcased the achievements of several STEM innovators: George Washington Carver, M.S., innovator and agricultural scientist known for crop rotation and developing about 300 products from peanuts; Marie M. Daly, Ph.D., the first Black woman in the U.S. to receive a Ph.D. in Chemistry; and Aprille Ericsson-Jackson, Ph.D., who held several leadership positions, including chief technologist, during an over 30-year career with NASA.


Black history month posters decorating the walls in the cafeteria.
The Commons displayed prominent Black leaders in healthcare, science, art, media, athletics, and activism. 


Also, at the Downers Grove Campus, the Black Student Alliance, Student Services, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) hosted a Black History Month Celebration Week. One of the events was a Hip Hop Paint Night with guided city painting and featuring an evening of community gathering, music, and art. Another event included a screening of Hidden Figures, a movie about the role of a team of Black mathematicians in NASA. The week concluded with an Uzima dance fitness class.

The University’s chapter of the National Optometric Association (NOSA) held a Black History Month celebration with information about historical figures including Martin Luther King Jr. and William Lawson, the first Black optometrist. The event also had cultural food including jollof rice, chicken, and the puff-puff dessert.

“We wanted to raise awareness about prominent people in the culture,” said optometry student Hana Tulemat (CCO ’25) and NOSA president. “I hope the attendees see how beautiful other cultures are.” Brooke Major (CCO ’25) and NOSA secretary said the event highlighted diversity in optometry, and subsequent social media posts could inspire others to pursue optometry when they see themselves represented. According to the American Optometric Association, around two percent of all optometrists are Black.


Student using pencil to trace on paper.
Students created artwork at the Paint and Sip event.


On the Glendale Campus, Black History Month events were held by the Black Student Alliance, Student National Dental Association (SNDA), Student National Medical Association, Student Chapter of the National Association of Black Veterinarians, Student Services, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The University community began the celebration week with a community service event via the Black Student Alliance at St. Vincent de Paul. The Black Student Alliance also held a Paint and Sip event for a night filled with art. Student Services and DEI held a Black History Scavenger Hunt with a Black History Fact Question throughout the campus buildings. The Black Student Alliance along with Student Services, DEI, and SNDA hosted BSA Presents with Denise Mills, D.D.S., M.H.A., Ed.D., Clinical Professor, College of Dental Medicine-Arizona. Dr. Mills led the attendees in an activity and a discussion about unconscious biases, and how they can be overcome. The week concluded with a barbeque held by several student organizations.


Students gathered outside eating barbecue.
Black History Month celebrations ended with a barbeque. 


Black History Month is one of several ways Midwestern University honors the culture and diversity of its students, faculty, and staff with events planned by student organizations and clubs and Student Services.


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