The Class That Changed My Life: Neurochemistry

Choosing to take the neurochemistry class is one of my best decisions that I ever made.


Looking back, I remembered so clear the day when I came to talk with my advisor Dr. Rutherford about my plans for the senior year. He suggested me to take the neurochemistry class.  I said yes without any thought about it. I then realized that I did not have any background about neurology or anything related to neurochemistry. Because of that, I so struggled in the first couple weeks. Adding to my struggle, the class’s format was completely new to what I have been known for my whole life learning: research -> discuss -> ask questions. There are not any books in this class. All information and knowledge I need are online. I just need to search for it. The neurochemistry class completely brought me outside of the box and challenged my mindset and discipline.


Each week, I learned a new neuron signaling pathway. Then, after a month, my new routine learning in this class was changed. We now focus on the neurological disease. Each week, we learned a certain disease, such as ALS, diabetes, concussion, anxiety, addiction, and etc. It was difficult to adapt a different routine, but I did. Interestingly, all of what I learned in the first month of the semester made so much more sense and became so handy, just like a guiding map, for me to understand the root of the diseases. At the moment, my interest and my love for the neurochemistry class started.


Each Monday, we discussed about the paper, which focuses on the certain neurochemical pathways for a certain disease, that we read during the weekend and came up with our own questions. Those questions were our homework for the Wednesday research. I always looked forward on Wednesday to come to class, share I knew and learn from other people. Friday was the time for us to ask ourselves “What can we do after we knew and understood about this disease?” This time period challenged my intellectual thinking, my intercultural perspectives and my creativity. Many times, I pondered and deeply pondered. Sometimes, my thought and my emotion were hard to describe by words. For example, in one week, our topic was addiction. That week changed my perspective about addiction completely. My biggest question that I have been asking myself was answered.


Most people who came out of the addiction recover center would at least understand that the addiction is bad for their life through experience it. However, majority would go back to the addicted path after they got out of the addiction recover center. Why would they want to do? When I learned about the rewarding pathway in our brain. I realized how much pain and hardship that they had to go through to fight against the dopamine in the rewarding pathway, where the root of addiction. This pathway not only trigger you to do it again, but also forms the long-term memory in your brain. After the discussion, we came up with couple ideals, such as what if the addiction recover center would take a few addicted people and spend more time to help them get out of addiction.  Or what if the society would support and provide job for those who just got out of the addiction recover center. Then they would live independently and purposely.


This neurochemistry class cultivated my cultural, ethical, physical and spiritual self-understanding. Finally, we did a community project with other social-worker students to present to the community about the neurological disease. Through the project, we hoped the audiences would have different perspective with a better understanding about the neurological disease than just being told about it. We want the audiences know how to treat properly people with the neurological disease. This capstone class helped me to engage in the world problems and to find the way to solve them with what I have known and learned.