Sarah Evenson ’21 is finishing her master’s of bioethics (MBE) at the University of Pennsylvania this year. The sociology major became interested in bioethics during high school and learned more in the course “Foundations in Social Theory” during her sophomore year at Haverford. Professor Mark Gould taught the course and connected her to Professor Renée Fox, a long-time Penn professor influential to the field of medical sociology and bioethics who passed away in September 2020.
“Professor Fox encouraged me to look into different opportunities at Penn, and I ended up taking a seminar the next semester with medical sociologist Charles Bosk,” said Evenson. “Mark, who became my major advisor and later my thesis advisor, encouraged me to take that opportunity and run with it. I think there is a good chance that without his support and help in making those connections I would not be on the trajectory I am today.”
Evenson was a part of Haverford’s 4+1 Bioethics Program. The program allows accepted Haverford students to begin their master’s of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania during their junior or senior year and complete the program the year after graduating from Haverford.
“The fact that it is a 4+1 program, and I was able to start taking classes and integrate myself into the Penn community while still at Haverford, will make the transition to grad school much easier,” said Evenson.
The MBE program brings together law, medical, veterinary, and social work students and professionals. Evenson wants to find a path that brings together bioethics and health advocacy, but she plans to take advantage of the program’s diversity to learn about how exactly she wants to incorporate bioethics into her career.
While finishing the program, Evenson is continuing research with a professor who studies the ethics of machine learning applications in precision medicine and will complete a final capstone project.
“I loved writing my thesis at Haverford, and this project presents a similar opportunity, but without the time limit, which I think will allow me to immerse myself even more in the research,” said Evenson. “I had wanted to do fieldwork in a hospital for my thesis at Haverford, but was unable to do so due to the pandemic. Now that things are opening back up, there is a good chance I will be able to do in-person research.”
Despite the pandemic getting in the way of hospital fieldwork, Evenson found opportunities to learn about bioethics throughout her time at Haverford. For example, she wrote her final paper in “Linear Algebra”, a math course, about the use of linear models to help patients and healthcare teams make decisions in complicated situations.
“All my professors at Haverford were excited to help me incorporate my passions into their classes,” she said. “Mark Gould and so many other professors at Haverford, like Shelly Ronen, Qrescent Mali Mason, Ted Brzinski, and Seol Hee Im, as well as staff in the Athletics Department and elsewhere, have helped me gain the confidence to pursue my passion.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series chronicling the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.