PCOM Student Co-Curates Exhibit at the African American Museum in PhiladelphiaDecember 2, 2022
Reaching 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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