Med Student Co-Curates Exhibit at the African American Museum | PCOM
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PCOM Student Co-Curates Exhibit at the African American Museum in Philadelphia

December 2, 2022

Janita Aidonia Matoke (DO ’26) stands in a white lab coat next to pieces from her museum exhibitReaching beyond the classroom, Janita Aidonia Matoke (DO ’26) recently co-curated “Black Healthcare Students: Black Students Breaking Barriers in Medicine,” at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. The exhibit, which is on display until December 11, 2022, dives deeper into the barriers that Black students face when pursuing a career in health care. In collaboration with artist Doriana Diaz and co-curator Zindzi Harley, Matoke shares her personal experiences as a medical student and her journey to medicine.

“By the grace of God, I was moved to create a concept centered around my experience as a black woman in higher academia, the lack of representation in medicine, the adversities faced, as well as the hope, joy, and light embodied and graced in being in this ‘afro-medical’ culture,” shared Matoke. “I begin to dig into the importance an exhibit like this could have for black pre-medical students, medical students and physicians, as well as artists. Through this exhibit I could discuss disparities and research the history of the medical field while providing an opportunity for an artist to highlight and share their gifts, uplifting a myriad of backgrounds,” continued Matoke.

The exhibit was inspired by Matoke’s personal decorative style. Artist Doriana Diaz used mixed media and collaged compositions to give life to the piece. As described by the African American Museum in Philadelphia, “Diaz’s artistry and Matoke’s scholarship converge for an interdisciplinary analysis of systemic racism faced by Black healthcare students and the unique culture and tools through which they transcend these hardships.”

In reflecting on the success of the exhibit and the journey to its unveiling, Matoke said, “It is imperative to have faith, to dream beyond your current situation, to know that your goodness is always your goodness, and your light is always your light. To rest in the understanding that no circumstance or adversity takes away from who you are or all you have been called to be.”

Matoke is originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She received her Master of Public Health degree from Thomas Jefferson University.

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