Dr. Jody Brakeley
“I’m the local lady,” she says as she introduces her topic Early Brain Development.
Dr. Jody came to Midd in 1969, 35 years as a primary care pediatrician. She believes it works best to collaborate with the local folks. A big theme in the beginning of her presentation is the development in brain development.
She is speaking to the whole crowd, but does try to focus on the neuroscience students.
Her presentation moves to Executive Skill Set, which can certainly be applied to many aspects of a successful entrepreneur. Dr. Jody dove deep into the flexibility trait, allowing for things to go wrong and responding openly without letting the little things get to you. She emphasizes that this is important for children just as much as adults.
She continued with many facts about the brain, including, neuroplasticity, where new neurons are formed throughout life. This means that learning is always taking place. She also talked about Stress Responses: positive, tolerable,and toxic, as well as an explanation of what stress does to your brain: the normal healthy neurons go away.
Dr. Jody helped us all realize how childhood experience can have life long lasting effects and what these effects can be.
Queen Mda and Nozandulela “Nozi” Samela
Before hearing Dr. Mitch Besser speak about mothers2mothers during the keynote address on Friday night, participants were able to hear first-hand accounts of the organization’s impact through a Skype session with two “mentor mothers”, Queen and Nozi.
Each woman gave her story of how she became affiliated with the organization and spoke about how being HIV positive has affected her life. They described mothers2mothers as an incredibly positive force in their lives that allowed them to regain control of an impossibly difficult situation. Because of the resources, support, and education that Queen and Nozi received from the program, both of their children were thankfully born HIV negative.
Queen and Nozi both entered the program as patients and returned as Mentor Mothers to help other women going through the same thing. Mothers2mothers employs an incredibly sustainable, efficient model in this way. Queen and Nozi also spoke about how successful the program has been in breaking down stigma around HIV/AIDS in the community. Although, they mentioned, there is still a long way to go in terms of gaining the support and participation of men.
Students, faculty, and guests in the room were struck by the honesty, bravery, and eloquence of each woman’s story. During the question and answer session of the workshop, there was a range of insightful thoughts and questions posed from the audience. Again and again, Queen and Nozi pointed to mothers2mothers as the solution. They had full faith in the mission and work of the organization.
Dr. Besser’s talk that night was even more powerful after having the honor of meeting two people, out of millions, whose lives have been transformed as a result of his hard work and vision.