This is the second in a series of Brain Awareness Week (BAW) partner interviews, in which partners share their BAW experiences and tips for planning successful events. Myisha Fuller is the teen librarian at Ashburn Library in Virginia, and Hasna Rizwan is a local high school student. Together they planned the library’s first Brain Awareness Week event, last year.
Dana Foundation: Last year was Loudoun County’s first ever Brain Awareness Day. What inspired you to get involved in the campaign?
Hasna Rizwan: Since I was 7 years old, I’ve enjoyed reading about neuroscience and the human brain, and this inspired me to want to become a neuroscientist. As I grew older, I became interested in learning more about the conditions and disorders that occur within the nervous system.
When I began volunteering at the Ashburn Library, I realized how much people didn’t know about the brain and the field of neuroscience. When I explained that I wanted to become a neuroscientist, they would ask, “Isn’t that like Alzheimer’s?” or “Isn’t that like autism?” I want people to understand not only about brain disorders or conditions, but also about how the brain helps us in everyday life. I researched online how I could help the community become more familiar with the field of neuroscience, and I discovered Dana’s Brain Awareness Week campaign. I immediately took the idea to the teen librarian at the Ashburn Library, Myisha Fuller. She helped me build an outline for the event. Nearly midway through the planning process, my grandfather suffered a stroke during neurosurgery to treat his Trigeminal Neuralgia. I never thought I could have that type of personal experience with a condition that I was studying. This pushed me even more to want to make the community aware that the brain is important to us and we should never take it for granted. I saw how one minute you can be talking and walking, and the next, you can be learning those skills all over again.