University of Minnesota

Neuroscience Student Profile

Name: Ayo Gazal
Anticipated Graduation Year:
Hometown: St. Cloud, MN

How and why did you choose your major?

A little bit by chance. I truthfully didn't know I was applying to the College of Biological Sciences when I applied to college. I knew I wanted to do something with science, so I initially wrote down Biology. Half way through freshman year, they said we had to decide what major we wanted to do. At the time, I was taking Introduction to Neuroscience: NSCI 1001, and I loved it. So I said, "why not?" I knew I didn't want something so broad like Biology. I knew I didn't want to do Biochemistry, Genetics, Microbiology, Plant Biology, or Ecology. It was really the only thing I wanted to do.

Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.

I haven't taken too many of my classes just yet. A lot of the classes don't start until Junior Year. But so far, my favorite thing we have learned about is developmental Neuroscience. I would say the first class (NSCI 3101) is challenging. However, it would be different if it was challenging and NOT interesting to me. I think the class was amazingly interesting and that really helped propel me through the challenges. It is also great because I took the class with a few of my best friends. Friends don't let friends fail.

What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)

In I have been a part of the student groups Tesla Works and Engineers Without Boarders (EWB). In Tesla works I got to work on a self-replicating 3D printer. In EWB Uganda I am currently involved in designing a water transport system. I'm quickly finding that there are many more aspects to mechanical engineering that involve asking lots of questions and lots of planning.

Spring of my sophomore year, I volunteered as a Research Associate at Hennepin County Medical Center. That was pretty interesting because I got to see a few stroke patients as well as see the MRI of their stroke. The fall before that, I did some Parkinson's disease research comparing Deep Brain Stimulation to Levodopa.

In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?

Hmmm. This major is not the easiest thing in the entire world. Like nearly everything else in college, nothing will be simply handed to you. However, that doesn't mean it isn't achievable. If you are passionate about the subject matter, you won't let yourself do poorly. Even if you stumble a bit, there is almost always room for recovery.

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