When high school students descended upon Emory University this summer to participate in the Pre-College program, they came to campus with certain expectations: get a taste of college life, make new friends, and maybe take in a Braves game. Whether they were just beginning their college search or giving Emory a serious test drive, College 101 sessions and residence life activities were opening everyone’s eyes to what the future had in store, and the students were loving every minute.
Perhaps no one had a more thoughtful experience than those enrolled in Forensics: Violence and Crime in U.S. Public Health. Despite the heavy subject matter, this new class offered by the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing was a hit with high schoolers who signed up to learn more about the world of forensic science.
Though students may have walked into the classroom confident that they knew the basics of forensics from popular TV procedurals, Associate Professor Angela Amar‘s course went beyond studying wounds and patterns of injury (though it did that too) to delve into the psychological motivations and responses of both victim and perpetrator.
For Grace Won, a rising senior at Peachtree Ridge High School, the emphasis on psychology was revealing.
“I learned that psychological aspects play key roles in crimes committed and that nurses are vital when it comes to treating victims, because these nurses can make or break a victim’s response to the crisis.”
Amar led students to a deeper understanding of crime analysis and the motivations behind aggressive acts, guiding class discussion far beyond what they had passively soaked up in popular culture.
As an aspiring medical examiner, Grace came into the course already enthusiastic about the nitty-gritty of forensics: “I can’t lie; I love dead bodies.” She was less excited about diving into an overnight college program that felt pretty far out of her comfort zone. Through Socratic debate about topics like rape culture and victim-blaming, Grace began to speak out and grapple with complex issues, even when she knew others disagreed with her point of view.
By the end of the two-week session, Amar’s students had traced violent crime from its root causes through to injury assessment and learned about public health supports available to victims. They also wrestled with the larger social questions underpinning a culture in which violence is the second-leading cause of death for young people. They even had fun doing it.
For Grace Won, the course was ultimately more than its syllabus. “I am really glad I took a chance and went. I know this sounds cliche, but I found my voice during my journey of self-discovery. I am so excited to go to college now, and Emory is definitely at the top of my list.”
Forensics: Violence and Crime in U.S. Public Health was one of three nursing courses offered this summer to high school students through Emory’s Pre-College program. Students were also introduced to nursing concepts in Advances in Cardiovascular Medicine and Technology taught by doctoral candidates Brittany Butts and Global Health Leadership in the 21st Century taught by doctoral candidates Helen Baker and Blake McGee.