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Neuroscience Program


Forging a Path to Neuroscience: Hoover

Jonathan Hoover: Proud to be one of the first neuroscience majors at Santa Clara University.

From as early as I can remember, I was always a curious kid. I read books upon books and always asked “Why?” From what I have been told, the last bit actually became somewhat annoying, but it was the beginning of my passion for discovery. It is this innate need to ask “why?” that drives my passion for science. I want to discover, and I want to learn.

When I was nine, my grandmother had a stroke, which left her paralyzed on one side of her body. Not too long after this, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. At the time, I didn’t understand how this person that I knew and loved had changed so drastically in such a short period of time. I wanted to know why. Looking back, this was my first step on the path to neuroscience.

Fast forward about nine years to my first few months at Santa Clara University. I was undeclared, but I knew I wanted to study the brain on a cellular and molecular level. The only major officially offered that was close to neuroscience was psychobiology, but if I were to do this, I had to take a lot of biology and psychology classes that seemed irrelevant to the molecular side of neuroscience. I went with it for the first quarter, not knowing what else to do, until I had a meeting with my advisor, Dr. Brian McNelis. I told him about my desire to study neuroscience and my frustration with the lack of a major that suited me, and he told me about Christina Egwim’s plan to create her own major. He set up a meeting between me and her to see if I would be interested. I very much was; creating my own major seemed like the best path to neuroscience. With the guidance of Christina and her plan, I developed a multidisciplinary major plan that would generate a specific understanding of neurological and psychological systems through a broad understanding of the molecular sciences.

Designing my own major made me confident that I can forge my own path and pursue my desire to discover. It also gives me hope that I will understand what happened to my grandmother, and, maybe one day, contribute to a greater understanding of her condition. I am proud to be one of the first Neuroscience majors at Santa Clara University, and I am delighted that pursuing my passion helped spark the formation of the Neuroscience major at SCU.

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Christelle Sabatier, Program Director

Patti Simone, Assistant Director