Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Volunteer Emma Friedenberg

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Cedars-Sinai Teen Volunteer Emma Friedenberg

Meet Emma Friedenberg! The 18-year-old is back for her fourth year as part of the Teen Volunteer Program at Cedars-Sinai.

Emma, an LA-area native, recently graduated from high school and will be attending UCLA in the fall as a neuroscience major on the pre-med track. We sat down with her to learn about her time at Cedars-Sinai and her plans for the future.

What are you currently doing at Cedars-Sinai?

I’m a volunteer in oncology. One of the most fun things I get to do is interacting with patients. I visit the rooms and say, “Hi, my name is Emma. Can I get you anything—blankets, Jello, or water?” I go through a checklist, talk to the nurses, and answer calls from other departments and patients.

Read: Volunteer Ben Pearson Gives Back After Beating Leukemia

What are your career goals?

I would love to be a neurosurgeon—surgery is one of the coolest things to me. I watch so much Grey’s Anatomy!

What inspired you to go down this career path?

I took my first neuroscience class in elementary school as part of a gifted-student program. It was an afterschool enrichment course where we made a model of a neuron.

It was also incredible to be part of last summer’s CIRM SPARK internship, where I got to make real neurons out of induced pluripotent stem cells!

neuron, Huntington's disease, science model
A neuron Emma created as part of her research focused on Huntington’s disease, a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive deterioration of neurons within the brain.

How do you like to spend your free time?

During the school year, I spend most of my time studying, and I work as a research assistant at a neuroscience lab at UCLA. I also play sports—cheerleading, soccer, and track and field.

I love to travel. My dad goes on business trips often so sometimes I’ll tag along. We just got back from London and Paris—it was my first time in Europe and I had so much fun!

Read: Teens Trade Summer Vacation for Volunteer Experience

What are you excited about in the near future?

I’m super excited to start college! I can’t wait to take some higher-level classes—I feel like I’ve been done with high school for a while, and I’m excited to do something else and work in a college lab.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m really good at Sudoku, and I love to paint, draw, and bake.

What is your TV guilty pleasure?

Black Mirror, Sherlock, Stranger Things, Grey’s Anatomy, and Orange is the New Black.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” I have it on a necklace, and I live by it.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Cedars-Sinai, visit Volunteer Services.

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