Meet a Neuroscience Major

Joe Blumberg

As the daughter of two Hershey, Pa., physicians, Rachel Abendroth ’13 surprised no one when she entered Dartmouth as an aspiring physician. “I was certain that medicine was my path, and felt I’d lost my footing when I discovered that I was neither particularly interested in nor gifted at biology and chemistry classes,” she says.

Having taken some introductory neuroscience classes and an education class based on developmental disorders in children, Abendroth settled into a neuroscience major in her sophomore year. She says of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, “I’ve appreciated the breadth of courses offered by some wonderfully talented professors.” But seeking even broader horizons, she took a wide range of coursework in the truest sense of liberal arts.

For Abendroth, the Dartmouth experience was as much outside the classroom as within it. “The majority of my time that hasn’t been spent in the classroom or in the library has been devoted to my involvement in organizations within the Tucker Foundation,” she says. “In my time at Dartmouth, I’ve dipped my toes into just about every local service opportunity I’ve been able to find.” These include Dartmouth’s Special Olympics Program, North Country Weekend (an early college awareness program), and Outdoor Leadership Experience (a youth mentoring program), among other organizations.

Abendroth will spend the summer working with Seeds of Peace, an international not-for-profit that brings together youth from the Middle East and Southeast Asia to focus on global peacemaking efforts.

After that, Abendroth will continue to pursue what she calls her “nontraditional career option,” rooted in community involvement. She feels that her career path is a valid one, despite not being directly related to neuroscience or many of her other academic undertakings.

“I have learned to use the skills that my professors, mentors, and advisers have given me, inside the classroom and out, in innovative ways that will support me as I move into a career pursuing the non-academic passions I’ve discovered,” she says.