Junior to present bioethics research at UNESCO World Conference in Portugal
When Halle Paredes ’21 learned she had been invited to Porto, Portugal, to present her research on clinical ethics, she could barely believe it.
“I really didn’t think it was real. Having the opportunity to travel to a new city and present at a conference about my favorite subject is my nerdy dream come true,” she said.
A philosophy major, government minor and scholar in the Public Health Pathway, Paredes spent the summer at Yale University’s Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics, completing an intensive 7-week immersion program with professionals and students from all over the world. At Yale, she conducted a study of clinical ethics and the importance of communication with pediatric patients during end-of-life care. She will be presenting her work at the UNESCO World Conference on Bioethics, Medical Ethics, and Health Law in Porto this May.
“In my seminar on pediatric ethics, we had a really interesting discussion about how old we were when we learned about death, and we discussed how different cultures view personal autonomy and truth-telling in very different ways,” said Parades, who has worked as a hospice volunteer for the last several years.
“It spurred me to think about how much children actually understand compared to adults’ perceptions of their ability to process their experiences.”
Parades decided to focus on children between the ages of 4 and 11, after she found that much of the existing literature focused on adolescents.
“Through an extensive literature review from medical journals, classic ethical/moral philosophy, and interviews with people who work in the hospice field, I learned how important the voice of a child is in clinical care, and that often decisions [made by adults] in the child’s best interest—including the decision to withhold prognostic or diagnostic information from them—overlook the child’s budding autonomy and disregard basic bioethical principles,” she said.
Parades, who is studying abroad in London this semester, said the Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute in Bioethics gave her the opportunity to connect her interests in philosophy and public health and inspired her to consider pursuing a career in bioethics. She credits her Connecticut College professors and her career adviser with providing support throughout the entire process, from writing recommendations to preparing her for the program to helping to edit her abstract.
Looking forward to the conference in May, Parades says she is excited about discussing her research with bioethicists from around the world and developing a deeper understanding of the bioethics of pediatric end-of-life care.
“I’ve become super passionate about this issue and I’m hopeful that I can continue to contribute to this body of literature to help children, families and care professionals navigate these heartbreaking cases,” she said.