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Exploring Medical Humanities

Journal editors Christopher Kabacinski ’16 and Emilee Herringshaw ’16. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

A student journal that debuted this semester tells stories of health, illness, caregiving, bioethics, medicine and disability in a variety of literary and artistic genres. The Medical Humanities Journal of Boston College [] is comprised of short stories, personal essays, poetry, artwork and academic papers by Boston College students and alumni.

An affiliate of the medical humanities, health and culture minor, the journal was co-founded by rising seniors Emilee Herringshaw and Christopher Kabacinski, both medical humanities minors. Funding for the journal was provided by a grant from Institute for the Liberal Arts.

The journal’s inaugural issue reflects its interdisciplinary approach, with a format combining analytical pieces with personal perspectives: Biology major Andrew Hawkins ’16 challenges the ethics of an experimental therapy for Ebola patients in West Africa, while International Studies major Lucas Allen ’16 advocates reconfiguring the global pharmaceutical system to eliminate the deprivation of essential medicines in developing countries. Meaghan Leahy ’15, meanwhile, writes about having a sister with a dual diagnosis of autism and Tourette syndrome, and Isabella Duffy ’17 and Maria Asdourian ’15 offer insights on losing a loved one to disease – Duffy’s mother to breast cancer, Asdourian’s grandfather to Alzheimer’s.

“The Medical Humanities Journal
is, to my mind, unusual for an undergraduate publication and extremely impressive both in its scope and in the quality of work it represents,” said English Professor Amy Boesky, director of the medical humanities minor. “The pieces represent work by undergraduates in many fields, from the natural and social sciences to the humanities. Also impressive is the decision to include recent alumni in a guest folio, showcasing some superb writing by young alums. Chris and Emilee are to be commended for their leadership in working with a talented and dedicated group of editors – the first issue shows great initiative and teamwork.”

 “A lot of students at Boston College are incredibly brave in dealing with these complicated and personal issues,” said Herringshaw, a biochemistry major who is the journal’s managing editor. “And we’d like to thank them for their authenticity.”

“We take up issues like medicine, health, illness, disease, disability and bioethics,” said editor-in-chief Kabacinski, an English major. “On the surface they seem straightforward when you look at them from biology or psychology, but when you put all vantages together things get so much more complicated and more interesting. That’s what the work in the journal shows.”

Formally approved this spring after a two-year pilot, the medical humanities minor is an interdisciplinary, humanistic and cultural study of illness, health, health care, and the body. Students choose courses from the social sciences and the humanities as well as the natural sciences. The minor enhances the studies for those considering careers in medicine, health care policy or law, psychology, global health, social work, patient advocacy or health journalism.

“It is wonderful to see the enthusiastic support both from the administration and from BC’s undergraduates,” said Boesky, who notes that the program has grown from a handful of students to more than 100, representing almost every department in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Connell School of Nursing, Lynch School of Education and Carroll School of Management. “A unifying theme among these minors is their dedication to ethics and service. I think BC students are strongly drawn to studying health in the context of the ‘whole person,’ and that may be one reason the minor has had such strong appeal.”

“It’s a wonderful minor,” said Herringshaw. “It challenges you to delve into areas outside your comfort zone. Values in Social Services and Health Care with [part-time Philosophy faculty member] David Manzo was probably one of my favorite courses here at BC.

“Coming from a science background, the minor has really animated the knowledge I’ve learned in my classes,” she added.
The editorial team is currently collecting submissions for the second issue of the journal which is expected to be published in late fall.

–Kathleen Sullivan

Celebration of Leadership

Graduating seniors, undergraduates, student groups and other members of the Boston College community were honored for their involvement, contribution and leadership in co-curricular life at the University, at the recent annual Leadership Awards ceremony hosted by the Office of Student Involvement.

Honorees were: Catherine Senoyuit ’18, the Nicholas H. Woods Leadership Award, which recognizes a freshman who demonstrated initiative, motivation and potential for continued student leadership; Joi Dallas ’17, the Timothy M. Padulsky Award, for sophomores who mentor and encourage other students to develop effective skills in inclusive leadership and teamwork; Cassidy Gallegos ’16, the Paul Chebator and Mer Zovko Award, celebrating a student who embraced the junior year experience and has been instrumental in creating community on campus, off campus or abroad; Brianna Hopkins ’17, the Jeffrey S. Keith Award, honoring a student who faced a physical or other significant challenge in his or her life while continuing to excel in academic and co-curricular activities;Cristina Foschi ’16, the St. Alphonsus Rodriguez Award, which recognizes a student employee who went beyond his or her paid responsibilities by fostering an atmosphere of hospitality, care, and concern, and who modeled student leadership by developing relationships, empowering others and creating community at the University, and Lisa Edouard ’16, the Alfred Feliciano and Valerie Lewis Award, a Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center award given to a student for extraordinary contributions that further the ideals of the AHANA acronym, and leadership in helping the Boston College community actualize the AHANA concept.

Class of 2015 honorees were: Daniel Corning, the Brian D. A. Hall Award, for demonstrating a deep level of commitment to a student program or organization, and leadership that advanced the mission of the organization and enhanced the quality of student life; Tyler Bean, the St. Ignatius Award for Personal Development, for seniors whose participation in co-curricular activities led to a transformation and/or deepening of their values and ideals; Ted Raddell, the St. Ignatius Award for Faith In Action, for exemplifying the imperative to “Seek God in All Things,” and demonstrating love for God by serving his neighbor and inspiring others to do the same; Michael Lank, the Congressman John Joseph Moakley Award, a Campus Ministry award for the student whose international service and volunteer work demonstrated a passion for faith and a desire for justice in the world; Kristen DiBlasi, the Welles Remy Crowther Award, a Volunteer and Service Learning Center award honoring selfless sacrifice and determination in serving the needs of others, and Yvonne Shih, the Robert A. Sherwood Award, an Office of the Dean of Students award recognizing commitment and contribution to community and civic engagement through excellence in leadership and service to the BC community and beyond. 

Full Swing
 was honored as the Student Organization of the Year for exemplifying their mission and enriching student life through their programs. The Student Athlete Advisory Committee was presented with the “Ever to Excel” Award for making an outstanding contribution to Boston College in areas such as education, social justice, service and safety.

Carroll School of Management Associate Professor of Information Systems John Gallaugher was selected for the Rev. John R. Trzaska, SJ, Award as a faculty member who expands the horizons, skills and value systems of BC students by providing support and guidance outside of the classroom.

James Hutchinson
 of Media Technology Services was honored with the Mary Kaye Waldron Award, presented to a faculty or staff member who demonstrates a continual commitment to the ideals of Boston College with a self-evident belief in the need to enhance student life in a positive manner. 

For more on the award winners, including videos, see

- Kathleen Sullivan