How is health information created, disseminated, understood, and used?
How do we know our own body and our own "health"?
How are death and dying constructed in our health systems and in our society?
Health and medicine have always played a role in my life. From watching my mom work as a psychologist, to personal and volunteer experiences, working with those who have a chronic illness or are suddenly engaged in the healthcare system has always been a part of my life. After taking an undergraduate theology course that used different religious perspectives to facilitate an introduction to Bioethics, I knew that I would need to pursue a career that involved giving back to the community through a health, wellness, and medical perspective. Through community-based learning experiences, volunteer work, and professional experiences, I have been able to gain a unique perspective into how both patients and healthcare providers view and address health-related concerns. I earned my Master of Science degree in Bioethics from Columbia University in May 2015 and am currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology with a medical emphasis and Palliative Care minor.
Some illness-based groups I have experience working with are: Alzheimer's Disease, Sickle Cell Disease, Cancer, Mental Illness, and Physical Disabilities. I have also studied American Sign Language and worked with Deaf and/or Hard-Of-Hearing communities.
In October 2015, I presented "Dances on Disclosure: Discussing the Intersection of Medicine and Mortality Through Dance" at the annual American Society for Bioethics and Humanities conference in Houston, Texas.
This interactive powerpoint presentation included photos and videos from the choreographic process, as well as information about socially conscious choreography, well-known dance works that focused on themes of mortality and chronic illness, and information on how to generate audience feedback that would focus on a discussion of interactions, expectations, and concerns of mortality within a healthcare context. Audience members in this presentation were then able to experience the type of audience participation that socially conscious choreography can generate by responding to the photos and videos they had seen throughout the presentation.
This original research is a work-in-progress that I look forward to continuing with. Funding for the research process and presentation was provided by a generous scholarship from Columbia University's Bioethics program and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.
I spent 1.5 years interning for the Lesbian Cancer Initiative. This program was part of the Center Wellness/Center Services division at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan, New York and primarily served the needs of lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender people who have/had a cancer diagnosis.
My favorite part of this internship was having the chance to develop my idea of a series of wellness workshops for the program participants and being able to co-facilitate the workshops. I had the opportunity to meet professionals from a variety of organizations who were dedicated to tackling different issues that may arise when living with cancer, and to interact with program participants on a personal level. Some of the highlights from my internship included:
~developing wellness workshops
~coordinating survivorship and wellness events
~facilitating educational workshops
~educating members of the LGBT community about cancer risk, prevention, and care during pride
~finding articles to post on LCI's Facebook page that may be of interest to community members or organizations
~attending cancer-specific conferences, trainings, and networking events
~participating in the Center Training Institute's workshops that focused on various concerns and issues affecting the LGBT community
My work with CoachArt has shaped a lot of my career aspirations. Volunteering as a mentor and hearing the experiences of other mentors/mentees has helped me appreciate the health and wellness benefits of art, kindness, play, and learning.
My mentees (3 young girls) and I had the opportunity to perform a dance routine we created during the CoachArt benefit one year. I am reminded of the joy, terror, and awe I felt the first time I performed on a real stage with a real audience every time I am about to perform now, and it was a pleasure to go through the same experience with my mentees! Giggling backstage, blank stares on stage, and last-minute fixes abound...it was awesome!
I was one of the founding members of Voices in Bioethics, an online journal created and run by students in Columbia University's MS Bioethics degree program. In addition to acting as the administrative assistant and copy editor, I also wrote a post for the Art, Media, & Bioethics section. In "Physician-Patient Relationship: Friend or Foe?" I discuss how the central relationship in the NBC show Hannibal relates to discussions within Bioethics about the physician-patient relationship today.
"Voices in Bioethics is an online journal that explores domestic and global ethical issues in the ever-evolving fields of bio-sciences, medicine and public health. It presents theoretical and empirical scholarship and discussion in a variety of formats, from opinion pieces, research papers, and media and art reviews to interviews with the foremost experts and luminaries in bioethics and beyond. Voices in Bioethics also features an ongoing blog (Newswire) to facilitate discussion of bioethical issues in the news today. Our contributors are a diverse group of health professionals, researchers, philosophers, professors, and graduate students, all of whom invite feedback and debate from readers."