During my time at Concordia, I have gained many important life skills, heightened cultural awareness, and a deeper sense of my calling to serve the world. Through the science classes I have taken, as well as those to fulfill a liberal arts degree, I have come to a better understanding of connections between many different disciplines and cultures. So far in my education, my capstone course, Neurochemistry, has been the most impactful and meaningful course I have taken. This class has challenged me to take the knowledge I have learned in the classroom and apply it in ways that can positively impact the world.
While taking this class, I have improved my ability to critically analyze and comprehend scientific literature. I was challenged as a scientist to ask questions and conduct research in order to come to a deeper understanding of the chemistry and physiology behind mental illness, obesity, drug addiction, concussions etc… Each week during the semester, our class would focus on one topic (ie. obesity). For each topic, our class read an article published in recent scientific literature, and then we each conducted and shared additional information that we found to answer any questions we had. Through this sharing of research, we’ve each become better communicators and have improved our ability to condense and articulate complicated scientific literature.
On Fridays, we would discuss what we learned about this topic and different ways that people in the world are affected by it. We mainly considered ways that we could improve conditions for those dealing with these different diseases. Since many of us are going into healthcare, this was a great opportunity to expose ourselves to these conditions and think about what we could do to help patients that we might encounter dealing with these issues.
Through our discussions we were made more consciously aware of factors that these people must deal with, and tried to discuss ways in which we as future professionals and community members could make a difference. Not only did we learn more about the brain and its functioning related to different health conditions, but we gained a greater acceptance and understanding for these people and what they are going through.
Another component of this course was blog posting one time per week on the current topic of discussion. As a requirement for these posts, we briefly and plainly communicated the scientific information we had learned, and then added any ideas or points that are interesting or good to be aware related to the topic. The goal for these posts was to spread the awareness about hot and sensitive topics such as drug addiction, schizophrenia, concussion, ALS and obesity.
This course gave me a reason to take a stance and share my opinion on these topics. I learned how to express information in a clear and concise manner and to speak to the general public about issues they might be interested to learn more about. It was enabling to be able to blog on these topics and reach the public so they also can grow in their knowledge of signaling in the brain and how it is involved in many health conditions.
Another crucial element for this course in making it a true capstone experience was our community action project. For this project, our class was divided into groups and paired with social work majors. My group designed and planned an event to educate Concordia students and the greater Fargo-Moorhead community members on the science behind mental illness. We hosted a large group of people and did a presentation followed by a speaker panel to provide information about ways to help and support family members and friends who may be dealing with a mental illness. This project required many hours of hard work, the development of an effective strategy to share this information, and coordinating with many sponsors. It was the most amazing and meaningful group project I have ever been a part of, and I am so thankful for this experience and the impact it made on the Concordia community.
I love how this class really enhanced my ability to BREW! The discussions that we had were phenomenal, and the material we discussed is absolutely relatable to the real world. It is crucial that we are educated on these topics so that we can be well-informed doctors in the future, and can spread this knowledge with those in the community around us. We have learned how to engage in scientific material and how to reach out to the public through our blog posts and community action projects. Even more importantly, we learned how to analyze and integrate information across disciplines to solve problems and improve conditions for those dealing with neurological health problems.
This class really surprised me, and I think I also surprised myself. I did not ever imagine being able to accomplish all that I have in this one course this fall semester. I have gained such an appreciation for education and feel so blessed to be able to share it with others in the community. I have risen to higher levels of ethical self-understanding and have become more aware of my calling to responsibly engage in the world by using what I have learned to help those around me.