Nanette Vega, Ed.D., Receives Highest Honor from Nation’s Leading Organization for Student Affairs Administrators

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NASPA, the leading national organization for student affairs administrators in higher education, has recognized Nanette Vega, Ed.D., assistant professor of medical education and assistant dean for diversity, inclusion, and community engagement at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, with its highest honor: Pillar of the Profession.

Nanette Vega, Ed.D.

Each year, NASPA, a network of more than 15,000 members at 2,100 institutions, calls on members to nominate distinguished individuals who have served as leaders, teachers, and scholars in student affairs in higher education. Dr. Vega, who will be one of 19 Pillars of the Profession honored at NASPA’s annual meeting in April, is the second in the University’s history to receive the award.

“I am honored to be among this special group of leaders, and that my colleagues both at the Miller School and nationally have recognized my significant service through my regional and national leadership roles in this association,” Dr. Vega said. “My hope is that I’m leaving an impact.”

‘Champion of Diversity and Inclusion’

In his letter nominating Dr. Vega as a NASPA Pillar, Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A, dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School, noted her impact, writing, “Nanette is a champion of diversity and inclusion.”

Dean Ford described Dr. Vega’s development, implementation, and stewardship of the Miller School’s Medical Scholars Program (MSP), a summer education program for high school and college students underrepresented in medicine and other health professions. The MSP includes four programs that support minority students who are interested in becoming physicians, including the MCAT Preparation Program, the High School Careers in Medicine Workshop, the Health Careers Motivation Program, and the Students Training in Research Program.

Dr. Vega, left, and medical student Tizeta Wolde

“The outcomes of the innovative programming she has developed and fostered are an example of her creativity, dedication, and drive. With her guidance and leadership, many students have pursued successful careers in medicine and the health professions,” Dean Ford wrote.

Distinguished Service

As an educator, Dr. Vega has served as a community health practicum advisor for Master of Public Health students. She developed and instituted the Restorative Practice Program, which allows students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds to engage in constructive dialogue, support, and healing.

Dr. Vega has also been a facilitator of the Miller School’s High School Careers in Medicine Workshop. Outside the University’s walls, she has served as a facilitator for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership program and the Leadership Miami program.

Dr. Vega also stands out for her service to NASPA through regional and national leadership roles. On the national level, Dr. Vega served on the Latinx/a/o Knowledge Community, which focuses on advancing U.S. Latinx professionals in leadership roles.

“I recently served as one of six faculty for the NASPA Escaleras [stairs for advancement] Institute, a conference for self-identifying Latinx professionals from around the country,” Dr. Vega said.

The Pillar of the Profession award not only recognizes individuals but also helps support the advancement of student affairs. The nominators of those selected for Pillar awards, along with a NASPA Foundation board member, will raise $3,500 in each Pillar’s name to further research and scholarship in student affairs.

“So, it’s bigger than being recognized. It is really about leaving a legacy that will further research and scholarship in student affairs,” Dr. Vega said.

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