2023-2024 Senior Capstone Projects

Urooj Ahmed (CAS’24)

From Statistics to Stories: Humanizing Medical Narratives in War-Affected Gaza through U.S. Popular Press Analysis

Personal Bio: Urooj Ahmed is a senior in the College majoring in Biology of Global Health and minoring in Medical Humanities with a special interest in promoting health equity and justice for marginalized communities. Following graduation, she plans to work as a dental assistant before enrolling in dental school.

Personal Description: This project aims to humanize the medical narratives emerging from war-affected Gaza by analyzing how news outlets portray personal narratives beyond statistics. Through a literature review and a series of three case studies ranging from October 2023 to April 2024, the project seeks to explore the impact of media representation on perceptions of healthcare necessities in war zones, ultimately aiming to counteract the dehumanization in coverage of the war on Gaza.

Alexandra Alkhayer (CAS’24)

Arab Racial Classification and Chicagoland’s COVID-19 Crisis

Personal Bio: Alexandra Alkhayer is a senior in Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences. She is on the pre-medical track with a major in Government and minors in Medical Humanities and Biology. During her gap year, she plans to work as a medical assistant while applying to medical school.

Personal Description: This project explores how the absence of an Arab ethnic/racial category in the U.S. impacted the Chicagoland Arab population’s knowledge of COVID-19, access to COVID-19 resources, and COVID-19 health outcomes. Through interviews with leaders of the local Arab American Action Network (AAAN), I will examine how this organization’s consideration of Arabs as distinct from their current ‘non-Hispanic white’ status positively impacted Arabs’ healthcare experience. I will also investigate the AAAN’s successful advocacy for a Middle Eastern or North African category on government forms.

Alaina Anderson (SOH’24)

Grain, Rats, and Plague: Global Commodity Flows and the Transoceanic Spread of Y. Pestis, 1894-1904

Personal Bio: Alaina Anderson is a current senior in the Georgetown School of Health majoring in Global Health with a minor in Medical Humanities. Following graduation in May, she will start medical school in the fall.

Personal Description: This capstone project surveys contraceptive and abortion print advertising in the United States from 1965-1975 across six different newspapers (3 general newspapers and 3 African American Newspapers). Themes identified across the two sets were compared including the type of service advertised, information included in the advertisement, and the length of the advertisement.

Lilly Berry (CAS’24)

Healing Art: The Impact of Artwork on Individual Well-being in a Hospital Environment

Personal Bio: Lilly Berry is a current senior in Georgetown College majoring in Psychology and minoring in Medical Humanities on the Pre-Med track. She plans to continue her studies at McDonough School of Business in the Master in Management program to combine her interest in healthcare studies with the administrative component. In her free time, she loves to travel and revel in various cultural experiences.

Personal Description: This study is dedicated to exploring the impact of artwork in hospital spaces on the well-being by analyzing questionnare results from the patients and staff on the fifth floor outpatient psychiatric unit at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. It aims to identify effective artistic components and themes, culminating in an academic thesis emphasizing the role of medical humanities in fostering well-being through art. We hope that our research can inspire more healthcare institutions to create healing environments through the strategic use of art in order to prioritize the well-being of individuals.

Tessa Block (CAS’25)

The Need to Emphasize Cultural Competency for End of Life Care in Medical Curricula

Personal Bio: Tessa Block is a current junior in Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences. After graduating next fall with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in the Medical Humanities, she plans to continue to work for her research lab on Georgetown’s Medical Campus and study for the LSAT.

Personal Description: This capstone project explores current gaps in cultural competency within mortality education by analyzing published literature and medical school course offerings. It aims to contextualize and argue for the necessity of increased cultural competence to ensure that both medical students and patients feel that physicians are equipped with the skills necessary to provide every person with what they themselves would deem a “good” and respectable death.

Hank Butehorn (CAS’24)

Comparing the “Spanish Flu” and the COVID-19 Pandemics: Lessons Learned and Forgotten

Personal Bio: Henry “Hank” Butehorn is a graduating senior majoring in History and minoring in medical humanities. He is also on the pre-med track and is currently applying to medical schools, hoping to attend MUSC in Charleston, South Carolina after graduation.

Personal Description: This capstone examines the similarities and differences between the two largest pandemics of the modern age. This research paper aims to uncover why the so-called Spanish flu is often considered a “forgotten pandemic”, and if COVID-19 is destined to have a similar fate. This paper also tracks societal changes and developments in the wake of both diseases, while attempting to grapple with medical inequities present in both time periods.

Ella Castanier (CAS’24)

“Checking the Monster Scourge”: Black Healthcare Workers During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Philadelphia & Baltimore

Personal Bio: Ella is a graduating senior studying history and medical humanities. She is currently writing an honors thesis on the intellectual history of Black psychiatry in the United States and plans to eventually pursue graduate study in the history of medicine.

Personal Description: My capstone is a historical research project that focuses on the experiences of Black physicians and nurses in the United States during the 1918 influenza pandemic. I argue that the pandemic exacerbated frustrations with medical segregation while also providing temporary opportunities for change, which paralleled the experiences of Black veterans returning from WWI.

Sabreen Mohammed (SOH’24)

Food Insecurity in D.C. Through a New Lens: A Short Documentary to Combat Stigmas Against Asking for Help

Personal Bio: Sabreen is a graduating senior studying global health and medical humanities on the pre-med track. During her gap year, she hopes to pursue clinical research. Outside of academics, she is an EMT at Georgetown, loves to bake, and enjoys taking photos.

Personal Description: My capstone project is meant to be a short documentary capturing the burden of food insecurity across the District of Columbia and how various stakeholders contribute to its persistence. I hope to showcase different perspectives to ultimately help combat stigma against food insecure people in the city and to uncover multiple stories through a photographic lens.

Julie Nguyen (SOH’24)

The Diseased Landscapes of Early Britain: Infection, Conquest, Migration, and Disability in the First Millennium, CE

Personal Bio: Julie is a senior majoring in Human Science in the School of Health with a minor in Medical Humanities on the pre-med track. Following graduation in May, Julie will be working as a Medical Tech at Pediatric Care Center.

Personal Description: My capstone project focuses on the phrase “playing God” and how it has made its way into medical aid in dying conversation. I first present a short history of the phrase “playing God” and then discuss how physicians may be obligated to “play God,” how they may not be “playing God” in the context of medical aid in dying, and the importance of recentering patients in this conversation.

Payton Parris (CAS’24)

Do Medical Humanities Programs Elevate Cultural Awareness and Empathy?

Personal Bio: Payton Parris is a current senior majoring in Biology of Global Health and minoring in Medical Humanities. During her gap year, Payton will work as a medical assistant at Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery while applying to PA school. In her free time, Payton enjoys traveling, playing with her pets, and volunteering as an EMT at Georgetown and back home in Maryland.

Personal Description: This study focuses on auditing Georgetown’s Medical Humanities Initiative and its role in promoting cultural awareness and empathy among its students. By surveying and interviewing students involved with the Initiative, I hope to understand the broader implications of incorporating the Medical Humanities into a well-rounded pre-health education.

Angelette Pham (CAS’24)

Review of Systems: Exploring the Vietnamese and Vietnamese American Female Body From Post-War to Diaspora through Poetry

Personal Bio: Angelette Pham is a program assistant for the Medical Humanities Initiative and a current senior from Falls Church, VA studying Biochemistry and Medical Humanities on the pre-med track with a passion for narrative medicine and Asian American stories. After graduation, they will be working as a full-time medical assistant at a local dermatology clinic while applying for medical school.

Personal Description: Vietnam’s history has matrilineal origins that were then complicated by a legacy of foreign invasion, occupation, war, and, prevalent most recently, diaspora, introducing a modge podge of contradicting views on its women and making them a focal point for many Vietnamese literary works. While anatomy is commonly employed as a motif, my capstone explores Vietnamese and Vietnamese American womanhood using anatomy as the subject in five pairs of fictional poems depicting a mother and daughter’s relationship with diaspora, trauma, identity, time, and each other.

Alice Su (CAS’24)

One Policy, One Perspective: Western Media’s Unified Critique of China’s One-Child Policy

Personal Bio: Alice is a senior from Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania. She is majoring in Psychology with minors in Classics and Medical Humanities on the Pre-Med track. During her gap year, she is excited to be working as a surgical assistant at Georgetown Dermatology. Outside of academics, Alice is involved with The Corp and Blue and Gray and is passionate about traveling, Latin, and patient advocacy.

Personal Description: My project focuses on the stories of those who were harmed under China’s One-Child Policy, specifically through the lens of Western media. It evaluates how the program was viewed from abroad. Furthermore, I investigate transformations in the perspectives of the American media on the One-Child Policy from its inception to termination, reflecting on how opinions evolved during its gestation and implementation phases. What follows centers on the following questions: how did Western media discuss the One-Child Policy? Was there a diversity of opinion? If so, what were the majority and minority views?

Kyle Yoon (CAS’24)

Shifting Narratives: Tracing Mental Health Discourse in the East Asian-American Population from the ‘70s to 2020s

Personal Bio: Kyle is a senior from Long Island, New York. He is studying Neurobiology in the College with a minor in Medical Humanities. After graduation, he will be starting medical school in the fall.

Personal Description: This study is centered around the evolution of mental health discourse from the 1970s to the 2020s in the East Asian-American community, focusing on the differences in topics and language between the respective time periods. As mental health awareness in the community has significantly improved over the past 50 years, the goal of this study is to demonstrate how changes in dialogue has paralleled this increased mental health awareness, with hopes of revealing trends that have and may continue to enhance awareness.