On Thursday, November 3, distinguished alumni Dr. Claire Jarashow ’96 and Dr. Shannon Thyne ‘85 both revisited the Poly campus to give several talks and share their knowledge on a wide array of issues. Dr. Claire Jarashow is an accomplished epidemiologist who was the former Director of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Control Program at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and is currently the Principal at The Public Health Company. Dr. Shannon Thyne is currently the director of pediatrics for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS).
Before our lunch with the rest of the Global Scholars cohort, I got the pleasure of hearing from both Dr. Jarashow and Dr. Thyne in my Contemporary Ethical Issues class. In our ethics class, we asked questions about Dr. Thyne’s work with children in foster care, general medical ethics questions, physicians assisted suicide, and patient confidentiality. To Dr. Jarashow, we asked questions about her experience with disease surveillance systems, how to distribute/create vaccines equitably for the world, and vaccine rollout in LA.
Dr. Jarashow’s insights on her international experiences were most relevant to the global scholars topics of interest. In particular, we asked Dr. Jarashow about her work in African, Latin American, and Caribbean countries and how the structure and influence of their governments changed her approach to developing disease surveillance systems. Dr. Jarashow responded by explaining that many ethical dilemmas surfaced within this topic. She had to figure out the fairest and equitable way to make and distribute vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not an easy feat. This was especially obvious when she described the countless hours spent alongside many powerful doctors and epidemiologists deliberating solutions for many weeks under the pressure of time due to the dire need for vaccines. Dr. Jarashow said that some of the countries she worked in served as models for certain solutions she imagined, while others helped her recognize the “don’ts” of disease control and epidemiology; however, she drew valuable lessons from all of her experiences abroad.
After my ethics class, both alumni spoke to the entire high school and its faculty at the Upper School Assembly. Then, a portion of the 2022 - 2023 Global Scholars Cohort got to have lunch with Dr. Thyne to further discuss her experiences while the other half did the same with Dr. Jarashow. I was in the half with Dr. Thyne. There, Dr. Thyne answered questions and spoke about her work with foster children and helping teens with mental health issues. I really enjoyed having lunch with Dr. Thyne because she asked us all individually about our capstone projects and specific global issues we’re involved in. She was so genuinely interested in our projects and made it a point to offer her resources and expertise to us, which was unbelievably kind. Additionally, when she was talking about herself and what she has accomplished, she weaved in all of the main global issues that pertained to our projects to show us how our global dreams/interests can become tangible actions.
I was fascinated by Dr. Thyne’s wide range of topics she works on and her ability to pursue each one. Thus, I asked her about how high school students like that of Poly’s Global Scholars Cohort can make a large difference in international issues despite feeling isolated in a global world or barred by age or physical location. Dr. Thyne assured me that we are all already doing so much more than we know. And, as someone who works on global issues from a local position, she recommends using the extreme privilege we have which is access to technology, a great tool for international communication. Dr. Thyne’s faith in me and the rest of the Global Scholars was truly inspiring and I am so thankful for her and Dr. Jarashow’s visit to Poly.