In Spring 2008, my sophomore year, I took my first Bioethics class. It was an alternative spring break course, set in Amsterdam and focused on international women’s health ethics. At the time, I had just exited a major and was creating new career goals. After the course, though, I was hooked. To share my passion of Bioethics, I collaborated with other undergraduate students to create the Case Western Reserve Undergraduate Bioethics Society. With the aid of the Bioethics department, we had several successful events. Our biggest event, Euthanasia Day, included internationally renowned scholars to address end-of-life issues with students and community members. Set amidst the fall 2009 health care reform debates and fears of “death panels,” Euthanasia Day provided a civil discourse about end-of-life issues and is one of my best memories from Case Western Reserve. I also enrolled in Case Western Reserve’s Integrated Graduate Studies program (IGS). As an IGS student I completed a Master’s of Arts in Bioethics and Medical Humanities concurrently with my bachelor’s degree, graduating with both in May 2010. My experiences as a Case Western Reserve Bioethics student, such as clinical rotations at local hospitals and scholarly discussions in seminars, as well as encouragement from Bioethics faculty and staff, led me to pursue a law degree after graduation.
I am currently a law student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, pursuing a Health Law certificate. Over the past two years I have applied my bioethics degree in a wide variety of ways. I analyzed issues surrounding surrogate motherhood as a law clerk for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, published a paper addressing the ethics of abandoned cryogenically preserved embryos in the Journal of Health Care Law & Policy, and was an invited guest on Maryland Public Radio to discuss issues surrounding posthumous conception. I am forever grateful to the faculty and staff of Case Western Reserve University's Bioethics department for sparking my interest in the field, and encouraging me to pursue a career in Bioethics. I am excited to continue working in the bioethics as a future attorney, and can not wait to see where this career path takes me.
When I first matriculated as an undergraduate student at Case Western Reserve University, the one thing I was 100% sure about was that I wanted to study abroad. As a student completing pre-medical coursework however, I found myself limited by time. When I first heard about the Bioethics Short-Term Study Abroad Program, I knew it was exactly what I needed. The Short-Term Abroad Program through the Department of Bioethics was the perfect antidote for my desire to gain international perspectives on the leading issues of our time. Not only were the courses offered during my winter, spring, and summer breaks, but they were on topics pertaining to the fields of medicine and public health; the exact career paths for which I was attending school. During my time at Case Western Reserve, I had the wonderful privilege of traveling to Amsterdam for a course on Women’s Reproductive Health Ethics and to Salamanca, Spain for a course on European Perspectives on Bioethics. Traveling to Amsterdam for the Women’s Reproductive Health Ethics course was particularly memorable for me because it was my first time traveling outside of the United States. Tours of the Red Light District, lectures from some of the most distinguished professors today, and one-on-one conversations with the local Dutch lead me to have one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had. It was truly everything I could have hoped for and more.
When I originally enrolled in the courses, I had no idea that I could gain so much in only 10 days. The lessons and experiences that I acquired as a Short-Term Study Abroad student in the Bioethics Department still remain with me today and continue to shape my future. Not only have my international experiences allowed me to provide invaluable insight to classroom discussions as a graduate student, but they have also caught the attention of medical school admissions professionals. In a recent meeting with a dean at an American medical school, I was told that perhaps the most impressive aspect of my file was my initiative to gain international experience, more specifically in the field of Bioethics. As a professional student in the field of Public Health and as a prospective medical student, it is essential to recognize the ethical dilemmas that will be present everyday in my career, to understand the many perspectives and views that others around me may have on an issue, and to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to be respectful of these varying beliefs while attempting to overcome the ethical issue at hand. My exposure to international Bioethics at an early stage of my academic career was the perfect way to begin my career as a compassionate healthcare professional that is conscience of larger issues.