A group of students point at the front door of the Allan Rosenfield building alongside an image of the journal Pedagogy in Health Promotion

Research Honor for Creators of BIPOC Mentoring Program

March 23, 2023

Since 2019, the Mentoring of Students and Igniting Community (MOSAIC) program at Columbia Mailman School has supported the academic and professional development of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other people of color) and first-generation public health students. Last year, two Columbia Mailman professors, Goleen Samari and Stephanie Grilo, who founded and now direct MOSAIC, made a case for the program’s broad adoption by schools of public health in a journal article titled “An Anti-Racism Public Health Graduate Program: Mentoring of Students and Igniting Community.” (Read a summary of the article.)

This article has now been recognized by the editors of the journal that published it, Pedagogy in Health Promotion, and the Society for Public Health Education, as its 2022 Best Paper of the Year. The article is co-authored by Goleen Samari and Stephanie Grilo, and Monét Bryant, a former research assistant for MOSAIC. The award will be formally presented at the Society for Public Health Education’s Awards Ceremony on March 23.

MOSAIC employs a group mentorship model. Faculty mentors of color offer mentees support in navigating and succeeding in academic life, with special attention to their ongoing projects and challenges, as well as advice on professional development. The program also fosters community through group activities and leadership and career development workshops, including those led by alumni.

Unique features of MOSAIC include the involvement of faculty, staff, and alumni; its flexibility to meet changing student needs; and an approach that foregrounds the fight against oppression and racism, at the personal, institutional, and systemic levels. 

The number of students participating in MOSAIC has grown tenfold over the last three years, with 260 students across all academic departments taking part in the 2022-2023 academic year. As MOSAIC has expanded and as MOSAIC students have graduated and become alumni, alumni involvement has also increased.

“We are beyond thrilled that MOSAIC is receiving recognition at Columbia and beyond, and most importantly, we are so proud to be able to provide community and academic and professional development for BIPOC and first-generation students to improve their academic experience and ultimately improve representation in the field of public health,” say MOSAIC founding faculty Goleen Samari and Stephanie Grilo, both assistant professors of population and family health at Columbia Mailman.

A Larger Commitment to Fighting Oppression and Racism

MOSAIC is one part of a larger Columbia Mailman FORWARD (Fighting Oppression, Racism and White Supremacy through Action, Research and Discourse) initiative whose goals include building: an anti-racist institutional culture and environment; a strong pipeline of BIPOC students and then into the field of public health beyond the School; new cohorts of BIPOC faculty and staff who are fully supported and have the resources needed to launch their careers; a broad program of authentic, active and ongoing engagements with local, marginalized communities; a more robust school-wide health equities, systemic racism, and structural violence research effort. Alongside MOSAIC, BIPOC students can also take part in the R.I.S.E. (Resilience, Inclusion, Solidarity, and Empowerment) peer mentorship program.