Teen Combines Brains and Heart to Give Back and Promote Science Education

Daily Point of Light # 6300 Jul 9, 2018
Karishma is all smiles after creating a neuroscience exhibit in celebration of Brain Awareness Week./Courtesy Karishma Muthukumar

18-year-old Karishma Muthukumar describes a “spark” that inspired her journey to promoting neuroscience education for students.

While volunteering at a brain injury center, the recent high school graduate says a stroke survivor held her hand, and thanked her for her impact. That one exchange was a literal “synapses firing” moment – and led to the creation of Synapse, an organization founded by Karishma dedicated to promoting neuroscience education and outreach, by teaching students about scientific innovation and the mind.

Through Synapse, Karishma and her team have organized neuroscience exhibits, bimonthly workshops, and volunteer opportunities for younger students. Partnering with local schools, brain injury centers and more, Karishma is serving her community and beyond through her service in science, and is today’s Daily Point of Light award honoree. Points of Light spoke to Karishma to learn more about her work with Synapse.

What inspires you to volunteer?

I started volunteering at a brain injury center, and there was a stroke survivor there who held my hand and told me that she was really thankful for my impact on her life. That was really the spark that inspired me to do more, leveraging my interest in the brain to do good.

Describe your volunteer role with Synapse.

I volunteer at the Alzheimer’s Center twice a month and each week I volunteer at the brain injury center. On a day-to-day basis, we volunteer and teach at local middle and elementary schools. We host interactive workshops and summer courses for students, offering them fun and interactive ways to learn about the brain.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

Seeing the smiles on students’ faces makes it all worth it to me. It’s also rewarding to receive feedback from our students, and hear how our workshops have revolutionized their thoughts on the brain and neuroscience.

How are you paving the way for the future of neuroscience?

We’re exposing these students to ideas and skills that they may have never considered before, especially with neuroscience. Through our classes, these students are considering careers in science – a field they may have never before given thought to. Synapse might inspire a whole new generation of future scientists and neurologists.

What does volunteering mean to you?

Volunteering is not about showing up at a place, but it’s about taking leadership and being able to solve problems. Volunteering is about adding value, and making the organization even better.

Are there any future programs that you are excited about?

We’re continuing our workshops at elementary schools, and we’ll host dozens of brain awareness exhibits throughout Southern California in March 2019 for Brain Awareness Week. These exhibits can be found at hospitals, libraries and more. Check out our website for more information: https://www.facebook.com/wowthebrain/

What’s your personal motto?

Sincerely with a smile.

Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?  

We take a lot from people, so it’s just as important to give back. During times of need, there are people who give back to us. This is especially true for people who have brain injuries or Alzheimer’s. It’s critical that they receive the attention, self-care and wellness that they so desperately need.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

You can start small and really grow bigger and make a change in any organization you enter. Volunteering involves leadership, creativity, organization. You don’t have to be a certain age to volunteer, you can really impact someone’s life at any age.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Karishma Muthukumar? Visit All For Good for local volunteer opportunities.

Post written by Marlena Militana

Brenda Solis