A Reflection On My Capstone Experience

Becoming responsibility engaged in the world is one of Concordia’s goals for their students, which is why BREWing has such an emphasis on campus. It’s so important to this college that they implemented it in their mission statement expressing the desire to end informed and engaged men and women into the world. Taking neurochemistry has really helped me appreciate this statement and grow towards becoming an informed and engaged women in our community. My capstone accomplished this by helping me get a taste of what applying this philosophy to my life is actually like. Learning about current issues surrounding the brain and trying to understand their complex mechanisms has peaked my interest in the brain, as well as given me a new perspective to look at many problems that are plaguing our country. I want to continue to follow the research on these illnesses, especially obesity. Before reading more about obesity I had naively assumed that obesity was caused by the decisions an individual makes. Although diet and exercise are a personal lifestyle choice, there are many other components to this illness plaguing the United States. I am curious to see if there is a shift, similar to mental illness, where those struggling with obesity are viewed in a different light. Instead of being seen as weak and undisciplined, they may be seen as someone suffering from a brain illness. Throughout this course, I have also learned to examine scientific papers, learn to ask questions in order to better my understanding and also discussed among classmates the real-life implications these readings may have. This skill will be carried forward as I continue into the medical field, and no doubt continue to read scientific work. I also learned how to communicate my point and understanding while also hearing different perspectives from my classmates. This forced me to approach problems with an open mind and to consider seeing things in a new light.

Not only was the classroom work stimulating and engaging, but the community action projects gave us a chance to apply our knowledge in a way that benefited our community. BREWing. The topic that my small group addressed was anxiety. This topic is something that I am very passionate about because I have friends and family who experience this mental illness. In high school, I never thought much about it or how prevalent anxiety is; that is why my group decided to create an educational presentation on anxiety to present to students at Moorhead High School. This presentation consisted of background of what anxiety is, symptoms, the prevalence, the neurochemical rational behind this disease and then focused on coping strategies through mindfulness. We also targeted this population because they are about to enter a transitional state in their life whether they are going to college or into the work force once they graduate. Transitional states tend to invoke anxiety, and there are plenty of statistics proving the prevalence of anxiety in college students. I thought that it was really cool to share some of the information we had learned in class about the chemical imbalances that occur in a person with anxiety, and I think that the students were very receptive. The science behind anxiety gives it a more tangible feel, which I think again helped some students understand mental illnesses a little better.

It was rewarding to see how many students we were able to reach with our project. We talked to 94 high school students. Some seemed more engaged than others, and those who were engaged seemed to really get a lot out of the presentation. It is my hope that these students will walk away with at least a little more knowledge about anxiety as well as a way to manage it if they experience or know people experiencing it in their upcoming transition.

I am thankful for the opportunity to take this class which opened up my mind to looking about problems with a new perspective and also for pushing us to contribute to the community outside of our Concordia bubble. It also allowed us to work with students who are not in the sciences which was a nice change in pace as well. This capstone experience has taught me about working with people, organizing and implementing events as well as how to create presentations and present material in a manner appropriate for targeted audiences. I will take away new skills, improved skills and a new curiosity for how the brain is involved in different disorders and injuries, and take them into the future as I continue to BREW.