Student Spotlight

Corisa RakestrawCorisa Rakestraw

I am a PhD Candidate in the Medical Humanities program within the Preventive Medicine and Population Health Department. However, before starting my journey at UTMB, I was active in various professional fields and educational programs. I previously worked in banking and finance in several positions and as a paralegal for a personal injury law firm. While in those positions, I was a full-time student. I have an AA in Liberal Arts, a BA in World Languages – German, a BA in Philosophy, and an MS in Health Care Ethics. I chose to pursue my PhD in the Medical Humanities at UTMB as I aspire to be a clinical ethicist, in addition to my research on therapy dogs and service dogs.

Currently, my dissertation focuses on how therapy dogs enhance patient care and contribute to the healing process for hospitalized patients. I explore this using ethical analysis, historical contexts, a theoretical consideration of interspecies bonds, and the therapeutic benefits of interactions with therapy dogs for the psychosocial and physiological health of patients. Beyond my dissertation, I am interested in clinical ethics, particularly adolescent decision-making for end-of-life care, and the promotion or defining of the limits of pediatric autonomy. What I find most exciting about Medical Humanities is the diversity of scholarly topics and the value it adds to health education and practice, and its practical applications in society.

As the Treasurer of the Graduation Student Organization (GSO), my goal is to bring vibrancy and a commitment to celebrating and advocating for all students in the Graduate School. Our graduate student population is incredibly diverse, from its students to our chosen degree programs. Through fun events, educational workshops, and creating outlets for expression, I hope to encourage all students to feel welcomed, valued, and appreciated by the Graduate School, their colleagues, and UTMB. The GSO has incredibly passionate and ambitious officers this academic year, and I am excited for all the things we have planned, even amidst the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Students can always reach out to the GSO by emailing

Past Student Spotlight