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Nikko Baer, director:

What I do: I’m a Biology major and Biochemistry / Neuroscience double minor at Carleton College.

Why I joined NAB: After serving as a member of a youth advisory board in city government throughout high school, I knew I wanted to be involved in some type of volunteering in college that would connect me to the local community. By shadowing a number of neurologists and researching the nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson disease, I have grown especially interested in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. National Alzheimer's Buddies lets me combine these interests by building strong relationships with my buddy and other volunteers and experiencing the impact of neurodegenerative disorders from a more personal level than clinical research.

Future plans and hobbies: I plan to pursue an MD / PhD after graduation. My curiosity lies in the cellular and molecular processes that allow for life. Outside of academics, I enjoy fencing, climbing, reading, and board games.

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Ayumi Sakamoto, director:

What I do: I am a Biology major at Carleton College.

Why I joined NAB: After losing my grandmother to Alzheimer’s disease, I became very passionate about learning more about neurodegeneration and about caring for those with AD. I joined NAB so that I can help my buddy to feel loved and cared for in the face of such an alienating and distressful disease. Volunteering with NAB has allowed me to gain a better perspective on the effects of AD and helped me to understand how much a difference we can make by spending time with our buddies.

Future plans and hobbies: I plan on continuing to do aging research after graduation. My dream is to obtain an MD so that I can care for the elderly population back home in Hawai’i. I love playing golf and spending time with family and friends in my free time.

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Julianne Pyron, director:

What I do: I am a physics major and archaeology minor at Carleton College. 

Why I joined NAB: My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia in 2017. After learning about the condition and spending time with other Alzheimer’s patients, I was inspired to learn more about how to interact and engage with those affected. Volunteering has helped me better understand the minds of Alzheimer’s patients, and how to productively interact with them. I also gained a better perspective of people’s opinions about Alzheimer’s, as well as a glimpse into the lives of those with memory disorders.

Future plans and hobbies: I plan to pursue a PhD in archaeological science, as well as continue my studies in physics and astronomy. I enjoy playing the piano and dancing, and am part of a pre-professional dance company here at Carleton.