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The Bioethicists of tomorrow are being reached today! Members of the UNC Center for Bioethics in conjunction with the undergraduate students of the UNC Bioethics Society recently held two student-centric events that cultivated academic interest in bioethics studies.

On April 18, the Clinical Ethics Discussion Group (CEDG), comprised of medical students, and the undergraduate UNC Bioethics Society joined together to host an event for students. Akankshya Jena, who serves as vice president of the UNC Bioethics Society and the undergraduate student liaison for the Center for Bioethics, organized the joint discussion. CEDG student leaders offered a basic primer on clinical ethics principles and guided attendees as they reviewed bioethics cases together and discussed their thoughts and approaches to ethical dilemmas. Jean Cadigan, a faculty advisor to CEDG, was pleased that the successful event offered medical students and undergraduates an opportunity to learn from each other and apply their ethics knowledge.

The Bioethics Society was part of another event at the NC School of Science and Math (NCSSM), a bioethics collegiate informational discussion. The event, organized by Center for Bioethics postdoctoral fellow Aurora Washington, featured multiple Bioethics Society members discussing their interdisciplinary interests with the NCSSM seniors. This provided many of North Carolina’s brightest high school students who may not be familiar with bioethics a chance to consider the field as an interest they could pursue in college. One high school senior attending the event commented that he connected his commitment to attending UNC to his participation in the event. This event culminated Dr. Washington’s year-long collaboration with NCSSM. As a graduate of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, Dr. Washington states that “I understand how valuable representation is in the field that you are passionate about. As an alumna of MSMS, I realize that my aspirations in STEM were greatly influenced by the people, careers, and disciplines that I was introduced to there. That is why it was important for me to create similar opportunities for the students at NCSSM.”

“As someone who only found out about bioethics in college, I would have loved to learn about the field as a high schooler and get involved earlier,” said Akankshya Jena, who also attended the NCSSM event. “One of my biggest goals with my position was to help others learn about bioethics, and I feel that we’ve accomplished that through these meetings. It’s always great to interact with younger scholars interested in getting involved in bioethics.”