Dr. Jasmine Zapata was honored with the 2020 “Superhero of Medicine” award on Aug. 20 by the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation for her work to reduce racial disparities and help inspire a more diverse health care workforce.
“I was just filled with so much joy. It gave me such a boost. I felt like Popeye when he eats his spinach and gets really strong,” Zapata tells Madison, laughing. “Getting that award just gave me renewed energy and strength and excitement and passion for continuing on this journey. I was extremely humbled and honored.
“And I don’t take it lightly. I don’t take my position lightly, I don’t take my purpose lightly,” she adds. “I know that I have a big calling on my life and I’m excited to continue moving forward.”
The 2020 “Superhero of Medicine” award was presented on Thursday night through a Facebook Live presentation after the in-person celebration was canceled earlier this year.
Dr. Zapata is a Madison-area author, pediatrician, public health strategist, youth empowerment specialist and community leader. She is founder of the Beyond Beautiful international girl’s empowerment movement and founder of the Madam Dreamers Academy, an online mentorship network for young women from diverse backgrounds aspiring to enter the medical field. Dr. Zapata is also responsible for launching The Ladder, a national mentorship program geared towards reaching a diverse population of students interested in the health field.
“Just talking to Dr. Zapata makes people want to do and be better. Her work to both inspire and enable young women from underrepresented minorities to think about careers in medicine will truly change the face(s) of health care,” said Marje Murray, executive director of the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation, in a statement. “We know that this alone will help fight the virus that is racism.”
Dr. Zapata recognized one of her own personal heroes, Jackie Hunt, founder of F.O.S.T.E.R., as she received her award.
“Jackie is just great. Thanks to Exact Science sponsoring the monetary award, I was allowed to present to a nonprofit of my choice as part of the Superhero of Medicine Honor,” Zapata says. “With this sponsorship, we were able to donate $2,000 to F.O.S.T.E.R. led by the amazing Jacquelyn Hunt who is a superhero in her own right.”
On October 14, Zapata’s birthday, there will be an event that will be part two of the Superhero of Medicine awards, Zapata says, that will come with a very big announcement related to health equity and supporting future generations.
In the meantime, Zapata is excited to celebrate her “Superhero of Medicine” award.
“This was something that I definitely needed in the midst of this pandemic. It gave me a lot of joy and I’m excited to run boldly into the future,” Zapata says.