Following an external search, Stella Rwanda, Ph.D., has been named the director of the Healthcare Advancement Resource Center (HARC). A sui generis, cutting-edge center serving Central New York, the HARC, formerly known as the Welcome Back Center, was established at the College in 2020 through a generous grant by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. The center creates a bridge between the need for more culturally and linguistically diverse health care professionals and the current, untapped resource of internationally trained medical graduates (IMGs) living in New York state.
During Rwanda's tenure as the HARC’s associate director in 2020-2021, the center grew its partnerships tremendously, with a recruitment of 72 IMGs - physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurses and pharmacists who were trained and often-times worked internationally and now need assistance navigating educational and career opportunities in the healthcare industry in the United States. To redouble the College’s commitment to cura personalis - the care and development of the whole person - and efforts to address all forms of inequities, Rwanda ensures a diverse representation in the HARC’s candidate pool and equity in resource and service distribution. The HARC is a member of the Welcome Back Initiative.
“Dr. Rwanda’s remarkable expertise in program management and considerable experience with linguistically and culturally diverse learners, as well as familiarity with the College and this region, made her an ideal candidate for this position. I am delighted she has accepted to serve in this role,” said Purcell School Dean Meega Wells. “The HARC is an important resource for our community and its mission aligns strongly with that of the College. Furthermore, Le Moyne’s experience in healthcare education will serve to benefit many individuals as they take advantage of the center’s resources.”
As director, Rwanda will leverage over a decade of national and international experience in the higher education and non-profit sector to oversee HARC’s programs and operations. Adept at managing grant-funded programs with an eye for efficiency and quality, with a team of center staff, she will be responsible for the overall administration of the HARC. She will implement the vision, goals and strategic priorities of the center, including the recruitment and management of staff and the advisory board members. She will work in collaboration with the region’s hospitals, community-based organizations, and higher education institutions such as Syracuse University and OCC. She will manage fundraising for the HARC’s programs and work as a liaison with the College community and the national Welcome Back Initiative.
Born and raised in Kenya, Rwanda started her career in academia at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya in 2008, and later moved to Syracuse University in 2013, and Le Moyne College in 2018. Having spent several years working in higher education, she honed a robust sociocultural understanding of the need for culturally competent initiatives that support learners and communities experiencing difficulties that lead to social marginalization, cultural and linguistic exclusion, and on-going precarity. Rwanda’s research interests include literacy education, multicultural education, teacher education and bi-multilingual students’ out-of-school literacy practices. Her scholarly work has garnered national and international recognition in the U.S., England, Finland, Kenya, Italy and Spain. Rwanda completed her B.Ed. and M.Ed. at Kenyatta University and a Ph.D. at Syracuse University in literacy education, where she was named the William D. Sheldon Fellow in 2017.
“It's that phone call or an email from an elated candidate after a successful residency match, new employment, or a pass in a medical test that make my work at HARC rewarding. I’m thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to oversee the impactful work that HARC is involved with, especially at a time when the world is grappling with the pandemic and an enormous shortage of healthcare providers,” said Rwanda, who formerly taught in the College’s education department. “International medical graduates are an untapped resource in the region’s medical community and will serve to play a vital role in the healthcare landscape moving forward.
Rwanda has worked extensively with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to engage refugee and immigrant children and families in transformative learning outcomes in Kenya and in communities in the U.S. A member of UNESCO task force and the Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), Rwanda is actively involved in policy formulation and implementation at national and international level. She has also served in various initiatives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion at Le Moyne and in communities in the region. She runs the Literacy, Art and Photography Project (LAPP) and the SAFE driving programs in the Syracuse community.
"There is value in putting yourself in environments with people from diverse disciplines, cultures and racial backgrounds, the experience pushes you beyond what you know,” said Rwanda, who believes in the power of inclusive, equitable environments that foster collaboration and growth. “The HARC exemplifies that spirit and I am eager to pursue visionary ideas that will propel the center and its members to greater heights.”