Concordia always talks about this ridiculous slogan they have about BREWing or Being Responsibly Engaged in the World. I’ve always known about this concept since I’ve been a little freshman barely understanding the world as it is, however, it hasn’t been until my senior year where if fully felt this concept come into play. As a capstone course, neurochemistry is supposed to make me become responsibly engaged in the world and pull my liberal arts education together and “cap” it off as one might say. Despite the word BREW being driven into my mind for the past four years (I mean I literally have a shirt that says, “this is how we BREW it” they don’t kid around!) Concordia also strives to instill a love for learning, develop foundational skills and transferable intellectual capacities, develop an understanding of disciplinary, interdisciplinary and intercultural perspectives and their connections and cultivate an examined cultural, ethical, physical and spiritual self-understanding. And a capstone class is going to do all of that? Right.
In neurochemistry, the first couple weeks felt like a regular class. We learned about signaling in the brain and neurotransmitters and how they work. It seemed like a regular old class to me, I’d study and cram for the tests and get by doing just fine. However, I was seriously wrong. In the following weeks, we continued on by reading a new paper each week about a new disease. On Monday we all read the paper and tried to understand what was going on in the disease pathology. Then on Wednesday, we would each research our own topic to add to the understanding of the pathology. On Wednesday after class, without fail, I would leave thinking, “I’m doomed. I am definitely going to get so and so disease discussed for the week” As it seemed, EVERY single disease apparently begins with me mistreating my body by eating unhealthy or being stressed. By Friday we would be ready to discuss about the disease and its overall impacts on society and the individuals dealing with it. This was by far my overall favorite part of the class as it opened up a learning and understanding that I haven’t ever had before. We could discuss openly, share our opinions and think critically and ethically about some of the most harmful things in our society: disease.
Along with this in the semester, we had to put on a community action project. Mine was about autism and autism awareness in colleges and in the community. Our event, put on at Concordia, was aimed on education and autism. We had to reach out to those in the community and ask them to participate in our event along with getting students and faculty to attend our event. In hindsight, I remember thinking that this was a dumb assignment, it wasn’t really going to impact anyone, and it didn’t really matter. However, I didn’t realize how much I would learn from this project.
Pictured is our group that worked on autism outreach along with the speakers and panelists we had at the event.
Do I think that my capstone has given me the all around Concordia experience? Yes. I definitely think for the first time in my college career I felt as though I was BREWing. I was capable of influencing people by putting on an autism event that people actually came to. They wanted to hear what we had to say and they thought we were capable enough to tell them. I have definitely experienced that love for learning as I have struggled through disease pathology but every week it sparked my interest as I couldn’t help but want to know more. The class encouraged me to think about others and their perspectives in a way that I haven’t before, especially when talking about mental illnesses, addiction and even concussion.
Do I think the capstone gave me the all around Concordia experience on its own? Absolutely not. Even though I learned so much in Neurochemistry over this one semester, I don’t think it stands alone as my one “capstone experience” at Concordia. I think the greatest part about the capstone is that it brings together all the things that I have worked so hard to accomplish at Concordia and what college has taught me as a whole. From a freshman learning about the basics of chemistry and biology, what it’s like to fail and understanding how to be on my own. It gave me the capability to stand up in front of all of my peers and confidently talk about what I know about autism. From this to organic chemistry sophomore year and learning that just giving 50% is not going to lead to success, however, hard work will pay off in the end. This gave me the ability to strive to learn about topics every week and continue even when it seemed like it wasn’t important. Finally, to every other class which has contributed its own importance to the real world and how it fits into my education. This gave me the ability to think critically about topics in my field and be able to discuss intelligently with my peers. I was able to include my specific insight based on the classes I’ve had and the experiences they gave me. Overall, I have enjoyed my time in my Neurochemistry capstone because it has made me feel as though I have accomplished so much in my time at Concordia. As a culmination of my college career, I am definitely becoming responsibly engaged in the world.