Neuroscience Student Profile
Name: Emmanuel Okematti
Graduation Year: 2018
Hometown: Rogers, MN
How and why did you choose your major?
My junior year of high school, my AP Biology professor spent a lot of time covering the nervous system and even though it was the basics it was very interesting to me. At the same time I was taking a Psychology class through St. Cloud State so I was learning about the brain at macroscopic and microscopic level. This pretty much confirmed I'd like to major in either Psychology or Neuroscience but I didn't know what. My senior year, I took an Anatomy and Physiology course and that's when I learned that I loved learning about the brain at a molecular and biochemical level. That combined with the fact that there is so much left to be learned about Neuroscience was why I decided on this major.
Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.
You only end up taking around 4-6 classes that are Neuroscience and before you get to those you are taking chemistry, biology, organic chemistry and biochemistry. Once you get to your Neuroscience courses you are more or less putting all of the things you learned in those classes and applying them to the nervous system. It is slightly challenging due to how much information is presented to you but nothing that someone could not handle if they put adequate time outside of class to look over notes, re-watch lectures and discuss concepts with other students. I've only taken 3 neuroscience courses but my favorite so far was NSCI 3101 just because you pretty much learned what goes on in the nervous system to allow you to do things such as see, hear, and move at a molecular level.
What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)
My main experience relating to my Neuroscience major outside of the classroom has been my work in a research lab. I work as an undergraduate research assistant in a lab that focuses on understanding the pathology behind neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. What I find the most rewarding about this experience is being able to apply information I have learned in lectures into my work on projects, and also being able to learn information in lab that I might not have learned yet in class. Also I volunteer in the emergency department of a local hospital.
In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?
I would tell students in pursuing this major to not be afraid of working with others to understand concepts and learn. In my experience, explaining difficult concepts is most helpful in learning and it really lets you know how much you know and how much left you need to learn based on how well the person you taught it to understands it. I would also say to get to know the faculty very well as they are the ones who teach the material of course as well as having a lot of cool opportunities for undergrads to do outside of the classroom.