On the first day of Neurochemistry, I thought I knew what to expect. After three years of taking intense biology and chemistry courses at Concordia, I believed I was walking into just another lecture-based science class, albeit one that would involve a little more research. However, I was genuinely, and pleasantly, surprised by how different Neurochemistry is from the rest of the science classes I have taken. My capstone experience truly matched with Concordia’s goals for liberal learning.
First of all, Neurochemistry helped me continue pursuing my love for learning. Not only did the class introduce me to many areas of biochemical and physiological research that I found to be extremely interesting, but it also helped me practice my critical thinking and reasoning skills by putting together pieces of complex neurological and biochemical problems, and then thinking about how potential treatment options for these problems would work. The community action project I participated in also helped me learn about the social policy side of the issues we talked about in class, as I had to think about how neurological diseases and disorders, such as addiction, affect the community as a whole.
Working with the social work students on our community action project helped me build basic skills for community involvement, as well as giving me more insight into how to effectively engage the community to address a problem. This skill is extremely important and useful in everyday life, as it is difficult to understand what kind of help a community needs, and it is also hard to successfully reach out to a community. Another skill this course helped me develop is scientific literacy, which is necessary for analyzing and understanding current scientific research.
Our project with the social work students also made me realize that the neurological disorders and diseases we talked about in class don’t just affect people on an individual level, as if each person were an isolated island. Rather, disease doesn’t just affect the people who have it, it also impacts the entire community, especially the family and friends of the people who suffer from the disease. And with addiction in particular, diseases often overwhelm the social institutions designed to assist affected individuals, especially when the community fails to realize the prevalence of the disease and how destructive it really is. Many people also think that some mental illnesses, like addiction or anxiety, can be controlled by the individual, when in fact the individuals suffering from the disease cannot control their behavior. This course helped me think about potential ways to deal with this problem in society.
This course also helped me develop a better sense of where I stand on various ethical issues that affect society. For example, we discussed the use of ventilators and other medical treatments used to keep people alive as long as possible when we talked about ALS, and I had never really thought about this issue in depth before. During this discussion, I actually came to a conclusion about the issue of prolonging life as long as possible with medical treatment, and without that discussion I still wouldn’t have a clear opinion about the issue.
And finally, this course helped me become responsibly engaged in the world. By engaging in the community action project, I was no longer using my intellectual capacity to just promote my own learning, but to also do something that benefits other people. This experience gave me a clear view of how to use my knowledge and expertise to help others, and I’m sure I will use this skill many times throughout my future career. By becoming responsibly engaged in the world, I will also help promote Concordia’s mission as an educational institution, and this would not have been possible without my capstone experience.
I had high expectations of Neurochemistry before I actually walked into the class for the first time, and the class definitely exceeded my expectations. I really enjoyed Neurochemistry, and it definitely inspired me to become a better learner.
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