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COLLEGE AND MEDICAL SCHOOL
It is interesting to reflect on the influences in one's life that directly or indirectly lead one to career choices and, for scientists, research directions. Some of these influences were very clear for Bernie, and some were more subtle. He recalled that he had always been interested in the nervous system and how things injure it and realized that this interest almost certainly derived from the knowledge that his younger brother developed epilepsy when he was very young. His brother is now fine and has been for many years, but those episodes of seizures left an indelible impression. Bernie felt that the connection between his research and his own history had a strong and important effect on him.
These interests in research and the nervous system were not apparent when Bernie was growing up in Brooklyn in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He was not a particularly good student, and, although his math scores on the standardized tests were high, his high school grades were not. He thought he was lucky to have been accepted at Brandeis University. The person who interviewed him said that, even though he didn't have the record to be accepted at Brandeis, something "felt right" and they would take a chance.
Bernie entered Brandeis University in 1954 at the age of sixteen. This was the time when Herbert Marcuse taught international Communism and the history of the Chinese Revolution, Irving Howe taught English, and Max Lerner taught American Civilization. Bernie described Brandeis as an extraordinarily interesting small school that was totally alive and spirited: "I had suddenly learned how to learn, and I began to trust myself and enjoy college." Although he loved biology and became a biology major and premedicine