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Class of 2018
Hometown: Port Jefferson, NY
What Baker programs were you involved in?
LaunchBayC was really the first time I got involved with the Baker Institute. Now I’ve gone to a couple of their events and it’s really amazing what’s opened up to me from them.
What project were/are you involved with?
Rhythm of Life. I started volunteering at nursing homes in middle school and kept it going through high school because I absolutely loved it. I worked with Alzheimer and dementia patients, and through that I found that while there is a system of music therapy, it’s not individualized and it doesn’t focus on each person’s Alzheimer’s experience. Because the disease isn’t one blanket disease – it affects everyone very differently. So what I decided to do was create some sort of device that would allow you to feel the sensory experience of playing music yourself and show you the images of your family and remind you of songs from your past. Music runs in my family. So what I did was I created a foam memory board with a casing over it that shows pictures of your family, and when you press on each face it will play a song that you can associate with that family member.
What problem did your project address and what was the solution?
We did kind of a systematic breakdown of the disease at each stage, each experience – the side effects and how debilitating it may feel. And then from there we tried to pinpoint what would help each segment of that disease. So where I found that to be most useful was in seeing the early to mid-stage of the disease. You’re losing your sense of smell, your sense of taste and you’re having memory problems. You seem to forget names and places, and your special recognition is really diminished. So it was the multi-stimuli approach that was going to bring everything together and try to help these early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s patients with that feeling of being lost.
What was your “transformative moment” during this project?
I’m not tech-savvy, so during this project I really had to get hands-on. So I learned a little bit about programming, which was incredible to me. And the really transformative moment in my research was when I was able to put together a fully functioning board that plays music on its own. And then I created that little music device that was the center of everything for my project. And that was kind of the coolest thing for me, to see that it’s something I could do if I just put in a little effort that it would come to fruition.
What are you dreams for this project?
My end goal is to actually open up my own Alzheimer’s-specific nursing home, and that’s been my goal for a really long time.
What do you foresee as your next steps in life?
Law school, and working with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients by practicing elder law.
What are your other passions (hobbies, heroes, sports, etc.)?
I’m in the student Senate, I sing in an a cappella group and I’m a runner...Batman is a hero because he’s a self-made hero, and I like that. I think it’s very entrepreneurial.