- Field Notes
Oh, the places I’ve been: A valediction. In August 2009, when I joined The Hastings Center as a research assistant, I was an ambitious recent graduate of Davidson College with a thirst to learn more about bioethics and its role in the policy-making process. Nearly two years later, as I approach my last day at The Hastings Center, I am reminded of my first day, one that alone might make aspiring bioethicists envious. At the conclusion of lunch, Dan Callahan, the Center’s cofounder, invited me to his office to discuss my academic and professional interests. Although I understand why I may have been so nervous walking into his office that day, I quickly learned that he was as genuinely interested to hear what I, a wide-eyed twenty-two-year-old, had to say as I was to learn from someone with decades of experience in rich intellectual thought. Just hours later, I was given the offer to coauthor a book chapter with Tom Murray, the Center’s president, on the role of national bioethics commissions in public discourse and policy-making. That first day would set the stage for what would be an intellectually rigorous and transformative period of my life.
Over the course of my time at The Hastings Center I’ve had the opportunity to delve into topics for which I had some academic background—health care policy, personalized medicine, end-of-life care—and topics that were completely new to me—synthetic biology, child psychopharmacology, neuroimaging. Perhaps what strikes me most about my time at the Center is the way in which I have been so deeply embedded in the substantive work conducted by the scholars. As I discovered on my first day, my intellectual growth was paramount to the success of my job. Many of my most gratifying moments have come when given the opportunity to write on a range of topics, from the future of the field of bioethics itself to the ethical issues in health care reform, lethal injection, and genetic privacy. I always got the sense that my scholarship was afforded the same consideration and thought as that of my colleagues with decades of experience.
I would be remiss not to also mention a few cases of personal growth. Living north of the Carolinas for the first time in my life, I survived the Snowpocalypse of 2010 and learned how to shovel a car out of several feet of snow. I developed a greater appreciation for art while living in Beacon, home to one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world (Dia: Beacon). And I learned how to make a decent meal that did not involve takeout.
I leave The Hastings Center in a couple of short months to pursue a public policy degree with a focus on philosophy and social policy at George Washington University, knowing that my time as a research assistant has helped me mature intellectually and personally in an environment and way that few of my peers will have an opportunity to experience. For that I am thankful to everyone who has made it possible. Taking some creative license with the words of Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places I’ve been! There was fun to be done!” [End Page i]