Building Trust

As a communications specialist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Marina Thao ’18 has a seat at the table at the nation’s third-largest private medical school.

It is a responsibility she takes seriously as MCW responds to not only the COVID-19 pandemic but also social justice issues.

“I support MCW with institutional and community initiatives around public health and racism,” she says. “I’ve helped coordinate and run listening circles, including those centered around Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. It’s important to create this space and allow students, faculty and staff to express and feel heard and seen by the institution.”

Thao also served on an MCW team focused on serving vulnerable communities, including translating educational materials for the Hmong community of which she is a member. She contributed to MCW’s vaccination clinics, during which she sought to assure loved ones of the safety and importance of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As a Hmong woman and person of color, when you walk into a room of medical professionals who are primarily white, I understand how it can make you feel uncomfortable or distrustful,” she says. “So when I got my vaccine, I posted it on social media and shared the news with others. Family members and friends felt more reassured after seeing me get the vaccine and hearing my testimony. In that position, I can be a face for my community and help others feel supported and safe. It was an honor to be present and volunteer for those efforts.”

This article appears in the winter 2022 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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