UMass Immigrant Stories debuts Nov. 14 with Matilde Castiel, Naheed Usmani

By Sarah Willey

UMass Medical School Communications

November 08, 2018
  Matilde Castiel, MD

Matilde Castiel, MD

  Naheed Usmani, MD

Naheed Usmani, MD

UMass Medical School is launching the UMass Immigrant Stories series on Wednesday, Nov. 14 on the Worcester campus. The program will capture the stories of faculty who have faced barriers and challenges coming to the United States as immigrants.

Matilde Castiel, MD, associate professor of medicine and commissioner of Health and Human Services in Worcester, and Naheed Usmani, MD, professor of pediatrics, will describe how their journeys have shaped their careers in medicine and their commitment to serve as advocates for the underserved.

“Each of our faculty, staff, residents, students and postdocs have a unique story to tell. Those coming from abroad to study, train or work bring an additional cultural dimension to the rich narrative of our UMMS population,” said Vanessa Paulman, MS, director of the Immigration Services Office and co-chair of the International Committee.

Dr. Castiel left her native Cuba at age 6 with her older brother as part of Operation Peter Pan, a mass exodus of Cuban children to the United States between 1960 and 1962. She didn’t speak any English when she arrived and was placed in foster care until her parents could make it to the United States.

Dr. Usmani, a Pakistani-born physician, is dedicated to improving medical education in Pakistan. She said her mother inspired her to pursue a career in medicine. Her mother came from a small town in Pakistan, dreamed of a modern college education and became a member of Pakistan’s first class of medical graduates.

“The UMass Immigrant Stories series are noteworthy teaching strategies that will help to educate our UMass community about the benefits of having a diverse group of employees from around the world among our workforce,” said Robert Layne, assistant dean for outreach programs and instructor in radiology. “Being able to tell our own stories is like a breath of fresh air. In many cases, it means that others are listening and interested in building relationships.”

“Recruiting and retaining the best talent for today and tomorrow includes the talent of immigrants as they continue to add their outstanding contributions to advancing the UMMS mission,” said Deborah Plummer, PhD, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion.

The UMass Immigrant Stories series is being held in the faculty conference room on campus from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14. To register to attend the event, visit