Cedars-Sinai Blog

Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Volunteer Emma Friedenberg

Meet Teen Volunteer Emma Friedenberg! She's back for her fourth year as a volunteer at Cedars-Sinai.

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?

Emma Friedenberg: 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.

What are your career goals?

EF: 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?

EF: 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!

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?

EF: 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!

What are you excited about in the near future?

EF: 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?

EF: I'm really good at Sudoku, and I love to paint, draw, and bake.

What is your TV guilty pleasure?

EF: Black Mirror, Sherlock, Stranger Things, Grey's Anatomy, and Orange is the New Black.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

EF: "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.