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SLU School of Medicine DEI Leader Receives Hispanic Lifetime Achievement Award

by Bridjes O'Neil
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Bridjes O'Neil
Communications Specialist

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St. Louis, MO (Dec. 2, 2022) — Esmeralda Aharon, program director for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, recently received the 2022 Hispanic Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis (HCC). 

The HCC’s Adelante Awards recognizes the contributions and achievements of individuals, entrepreneurs, and corporations in the St. Louis Metro metropolitan area. Aharon was awarded this prestigious award due to her significant contributions to the development and advancement of the Hispanic community. 

Esmeralda Aharon (third from the right) poses with other awardees at the 2022 Adelante Awards. The photo is taken indoors in a dimly-lit room. The group stands on a stage holding framed artwork.

Esmeralda Aharon (third from the right) is shown here at an awards ceremony held recently at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown St. Louis. Photo by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Aharon is a bilingual diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) leader who has served at the University since October 2020. In her role, she develops and maintains recruitment pipelines and retention programs for underrepresented minorities. Additionally, she connects and engages the School of Medicine with the St. Louis community to mitigate health care disparities in St. Louis.

Aharon is a first-generation Latina college graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in workforce education and development from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. She has a master’s degree in teaching elementary education from Liberty University.

Aharon has an extensive background and a successful track record accomplishing this type of work from her days in the U.S. Air Force. She combined DEI and military skills for vaccine community response during the pandemic to create partnerships between the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the city's COVID-19 Taskforce, Missouri Emergency Management Agency, Air National Guard, and 110 students to vaccinate the underserved.

She also facilitated two Spanish and three English vaccine webinars for diverse, underserved demographics and panels that featured the Mexican Head Consul, an immigration lawyer, minority doctors, researchers, faith and community leaders.

Aharon created a military Veteran outreach program in response to Afghanistan's pullout and led the inaugural Operation Healthy Vets community event for Veterans and their families.

Due to impactful DEI work in the community, she was elected to the Hispanic Leaders Group of Greater St. Louis Board of Directors. She serves as the operations chair for the Immigrant Service Providers Network, is the STL Juntos Tactical Flexibility Leader, DEI advisor to Women in Medicine and Science at SLU, and the membership and development chair for SLU Women’s Commission.

About Saint Louis University School of Medicine

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.