Joey Seuferling: Changing the world, one brain at a time

By Joey Seuferling, Resource Council Member for hospital/health care outreach

It was a sunny day as I drove to the NW Noggin outreach opportunity of the week, with human brains riding along in the passenger seat of my car. Many Noggin events are early in the morning, but the feeling I have when volunteering kept my energy up  –  I always end up feeling we’ve made an impact. This was one of many outreach events I participated in, though I was on brain transport duty this time. After arriving at the school with other volunteers and entering the classroom we delivered an introduction on the basics of neuroscience and our brain. After beginning speeches we then prepared the human brains the students can hold, one of my favorite parts of our outreach. As we slowly removed the brains from buckets filled with formaldehyde, the stench reached their noses, and statements such as “That smells awful!” or “Are those real brains?” bounced around the classroom. The most wonderful thing to see is the faces of students when holding their first brain, and answering their questions as they hold the very organ that lies within their own skulls.

Outreach is an essential part of any community, as it provides accessibility to opportunities that are otherwise difficult to connect with. I first met Dr. Bill Griesar when taking his Neuroanatomy course at WSUV, knowing close to nothing of NW Noggin. I first began volunteering when running into Dr. Griesar at the library where he presented to me pictures of the most recent outreach event which spiked my interest. He explained to me the implementation of art into neuroscience, and his enthusiasm for teaching I will never forget. I soon became frequently involved with NW Noggin and Bill helped me to connect with many healthcare outreach opportunities as my goal was to enter the medical field.

Through NW Noggin I have met many teachers, students, and healthcare providers with many personalities and interests. At first I was very worried about my teaching abilities, especially towards children who pick apart every concept you explain with difficult questions. NW Noggin improved my confidence in teaching, as we explained complex ideas to some of the youngest generations. A healthcare provider must explain and teach their patients confidently, and these outreach opportunities placed me in situations where similar skills were put to the test.

I have met teachers who have been so thankful for our events and students who now have a newfound interest in science, art, and the brain. NW Noggin has also led me to meet neurosurgeons and other healthcare practitioners who have provided insight into healthcare careers. We have participated in multiple healthcare fairs where human brains are presented, and we even had the opportunity to observe live brain surgery!

NW Noggin has changed my life. I now have a new perspective on the skill of teaching, especially younger generations. Strengthening the ability to present information to even the most critical of an audience is important for those pursuing a healthcare career. This outreach has also highlighted the importance of educating our youth, and I now wish to work with pediatric patients through the healthcare field that I eventually enter. A generation interested in art and science is essential for our future.

“As long as our brain is a mystery, the universe, the reflection of the structure of the brain will also be a mystery.” – Santiago Ramon y Cajal

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