Priya Devanarayan, a Penn State senior majoring in Biology and minoring in Bioethics and Medical Humanities, received the 2023 John W. Oswald Award for Outstanding Leadership. Established in 1983, the Oswald Award, one of the most esteemed honors for graduating seniors at Penn State, recognizes various fields of university leadership. Ms. Devanarayan’s honor is for the Scholarship category.
“I am immensely grateful to be recognized for this honor at Penn State,” said Devanarayan. “I am passionate about serving my local communities and using research as a means for advocacy, especially in the context of healthcare to make tangible changes. Professor Mekel has been an extraordinary mentor over the past few years, and I have her to thank for inspiring me to make bioethics and ethical leadership a core component of my undergraduate career and my future career as a physician.”
Ms. Devanarayan’s scholarship has focused on the ethical, legal, and policy implications of unauthorized pelvic exams administered to anesthetized patients at teaching hospitals as part of medical education and training. She conducted extensive research and academic analysis on this topic, including a bioethics capstone, a Schreyer Honors College thesis, and various scholarly conference presentations.
In addition, she shared her insights with her peers in bioethics classes. As to the latter, she imparted more than knowledge—she inspired others with her passion for justice in healthcare and her ethical stewardship in the promotion of social change.
“To see a student engage in the self-directed way that Ms. Devanarayan has done on a topic that offers academic and real-world implications is rare,” wrote her nominator, Michele Mekel, associate director of the Bioethics Program and Ms. Devanarayan’s faculty mentor. “To see a student become an advocate for victims of an unethical practice in a field they wish to pursue is particularly impressive and demonstrates tremendous leadership and virtue; it is such intrepidness that Ms. Devanarayan has exhibited and continues to exhibit through her work,” said Mekel.
Following graduation, Ms. Devanarayan, who has served as an emergency medical technician since 2021, will attend medical school at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA.
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