Did you know NEOMED has a funeral director? Justin Kaszowksi, CFSP, serves as NEOMED’s funeral director and embalmer. He is also the manager of the gross anatomy and neurobiology lab. We sat down with him to learn more.
Q. How did you become interested in mortuary science?
A. I have always been surrounded by the funeral business because my family owns a funeral parlor, Sinchak and Sons. One of my first jobs was parking cars for the funeral home. After I graduated from college, I interned at the family funeral home and later apprenticed there. Working for the funeral home is the only job I ever held outside of NEOMED. I like what I am doing, because people don’t talk back. If they do, there is a problem.
Q. How do you keep such a happy attitude when your business is death?
A. Like any other job, you have to have a special calling to go into mortuary science. It is often said that funeral directors have two voices: the funeral director voice, which is more serious, and the other voice, which is more happy-go- lucky. If there is no separation, you will always be down in the dumps.
Q. How do students use the bodies?
A. In a sense, this is the student’s first patient. M1 students use the bodies for the human development and structure course that starts in September. They are placed in groups of five students to one cadaver. They work with the same body all year long. For the first half of the year, the students know only the gender and cause of death. The faces are kept covered until November, when students begin to examine the facial features of their cadavers. Then, they try to match their cadavers with the pictures of the donors in the program for the memorial service held in May. By then, the students are told their names. After working with their cadavers all year long, the students establish a bond with their cadaver. Often they take the time to write poetry and prose to present at the memorial service. Family members often express an interest in meeting and talking with the students who have been working with the donated body. They want to tell them about what their mom or dad did in life.
Q. Are you involved on campus?
A. Yes, one of the most fun things I have done on campus is being the first Nate, the walking whale (pictured above with Dr. Gershen). No student could figure out who I was and when they did, they thought I was one of them. They didn’t realize I was actually part of the staff.