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Forging a Path to Neuroscience

I have always loved problem solving, so discovering my passion for both science and research early on in my college career helped put me on a rewarding path. As I approached my sophomore year, however, I still felt a bit of uncertainty about what I wanted to major in. hadn’t discovered how to use my problem solving skills to make discoveries that would impact the lives of others. I felt as if my particular interests didn’t fit a certain mold and my desire to compartmentalize myself kept me from discovering the best path forward.

Then, I had an academic advising meeting with Dr. Brian McNelis. He revealed to me that I didn’t have to fit a mold, and that if the classes that I was most interested in didn’t fit into the templates of a traditional major, I could create my own academic track. I then compiled a list of classes that I found to be the most interesting, compelling, and challenging. I took the opportunity to tap into my sense of innovation, and through the Individual Studies Program, became a Neuroscience Major.

My goal was to design a multidisciplinary major that allows me to expand my understanding of neurobiological and psychobiological functions, bridging the gap between mental and biological processes. My interest in neuroscience blossomed after I read the book The Man Who Mistook H is Wife For a Hat by the late Dr. Oliver Sacks. He described even the most complicated neuropathologies in ways that an average reader could effortlessly understand. He leveraged his problem solving skills to make discoveries in neurology that gave people deeper understanding of the symptoms they were experiencing, and helped them find solace in their health conditions. I aspire to be as brilliant, humble, and helpful as Dr. Sacks was.

The neuroscience field is full of uncertainties. There is much that is unknown about the brain and how it works. To my surprise, I am very comfortable with this. For the first time I have found solace in uncertainty. Creating my neuroscience major has given me confidence to take matters into my owns hands and pursue my deepest passions. I am proud to be able to say that I am Santa Clara University’s first neuroscience major and I am very excited to see how this new department at Santa Clara will challenge and inspire future students to explore this field.

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