Human Science Major Chairs GU Student Association’s Accessibility Policy Team
November 19, 2020 – Nesreen Shahrour (NHS’23), a sophomore human science major, is active in the Georgetown University Student Association, chairing the Accessibility Policy Team.
“Through this advocacy work, I have met the most wonderful, determined students, and formed great friendships, some without even meeting them in person,” she said. “Additionally, I was inspired to pursue a disability studies minor to study disability at a cultural, historical, and political level.”
Shahrour, who enjoys undergraduate research and community service, says, “. . . I hope to attend medical school and continue my journey of serving the underserved. I also plan on continuing my involvement in research to expand my research skills and do my part in advancing and improving the health field.”
Question: Where did you grow up, and how did you learn about Georgetown?
Shahrour: I was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, and moved to North Carolina in 5th grade. During high school, I started researching colleges with health-related majors, which is how I learned about Georgetown. It was one of the few colleges that had a school specifically for health-related programs. I was attracted to the small, tight-knit community of the NHS, and I was looking for a course of study that combined my interests in basic sciences and human health, so human science was perfect for me.
Question: What drew you to want to study in the health field?
Shahrour: Growing up, my second home was my mother’s clinic in Damascus. I used to go to her clinic every day after school and watch patients go in and out. The significance of this clinic was in its location. It was located in a part of town where many vulnerable and underserved families lived. I used to sit in the waiting room and observe the patients’ change in facial expressions from sadness to relief after finishing their visit. I was later informed that much of the work done at this clinic was pro bono, and I was inspired by the impact, comfort, and support a clinic, in a community with poor resources, can have on people in that community. I want to be in the health field because I want to lead and partake in the effort to ensure that every person has access to quality health care services no matter their socioeconomic status, residence, or health care needs.
Question: How are you enjoying the human science major?
Shahrour: I absolutely love the human science major! Interacting with the amazing, inspiring professors has been a highlight of my time here at Georgetown. It is really important for me to develop close relationships with my professors, so I have especially enjoyed the human science “hangouts.”
I am fascinated by all the material I learn in my classes. I appreciate the combination of hard sciences and the public health approach that many of my classes provide such as “Health Promotion & Disease Prevention” and “Pathophysiology” this semester. This approach has strengthened my interest in learning more about the human body and public health.
Question: Tell us about the activities you are involved in at Georgetown.
Shahrour: Since the start of this semester, I’ve been working, along with two other undergraduates, on establishing an open-source scientific research journal, Georgetown Scientific Research Journal. This journal publishes peer-reviewed research from all scientific disciplines. Through this organization, I hope to foster inclusion within the Georgetown science community, encourage interest in research-based careers, and highlight the amazing contributions of student researchers on Georgetown’s campus. Personally, I have been involved in Dr. Anton Wellstein’s lab at Georgetown University Medical Center, where I work on monitoring radiation-induced damage through methylation patterns in circulating cell-free DNA.
One of my most meaningful involvements is serving as the chair of GUSA’s Accessibility Policy Team. We work on projects focused on improving students with disabilities’ experience at Georgetown such as the prioritization of students with disabilities in COVID-19 response resources, advocating for those with medical housing and academic accommodations, and working with Georgetown website accessibility to ensure online platforms are accessible. Through this advocacy work, I have met the most wonderful, determined students, and formed great friendships, some without even meeting them in person. Additionally, I was inspired to pursue a disability studies minor to study disability at a cultural, historical, and political level.
I also work with the CSJ in their After School Kids (ASK) Program where I tutor at-potential teens in DC, who are adversely impacted by the cradle-to-prison pipeline, to help them make positive strides in their lives and be advocates for change in their community. ASK provides me with the opportunity to serve and support these teens toward reaching their goals academically and professionally. I take great pride and joy in being a part of these teens’ lives and simply being there for their needs.
Education has always been an interest of mine due to its powerful role in shaping society. I am specifically interested in how the educational system can be revamped to fulfill the needs of vulnerable and marginalized students. Recently, I, along with two undergraduate students, hosted an event as part of the CSJ Education for Liberation Week where we discussed how educational institutions are contributing to the exclusion of people with disabilities. The event was titled “Dismantling Academic Ableism: The Fight for Inclusion in Higher Education” and focused on analyzing how ableism is interconnected with rhetoric, the inaccessibility of colleges, and the disabling culture of higher education.
Question: What are your plans for the future?
Shahrour: After graduation, I hope to attend medical school and continue my journey of serving the underserved. I also plan on continuing my involvement in research to expand my research skills and do my part in advancing and improving the health field.