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UNLV Student Jeff Nava dissecting a brain cake during his 24th birthday. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Nava)
UNLV Student Jeff Nava dissecting a brain cake during his 24th birthday. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Nava)

Aspiring Neurosurgeon Already Making an Impact at UNLV

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UNLV has a student who is a trilingual philanthropist, avid world traveler and future neurosurgeon. Besides all of this, Jeff Nava is an active Kappa Sigma fraternity member, researcher and musician.

Some would put the 24-year-old on a pedestal and describe him as the perfect man, but to his friends, he’s just Jeff.

Nava is a Las Vegas local and attended Las Vegas High School, where he was an exemplary student. He received excellent grades, was the president of the student council and the leader of the school band.

Nava graduated high school with high honors and got a scholarship to attend the University of Hawaii in 2009 for music. He attended school there for a year before deciding he wanted to stay close to his hometown.

In 2010, Nava began school at the UNLV, where he acquired an associate degree in psychology in under a year and a half.

After receiving his associate degree, Nava began to pursue a degree in biology to fulfill his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.

“I love brains,” Nava said. “I want to be a pediatric neurosurgeon so I can help children with neurological issues.”

Nava has a deep love for his major and education in general.

“Jeff is one of the smartest people I know,” said his close friend Beca Velazquez. “There is not a day that goes by where he doesn’t bring up biology or neuroscience. Everyone at UNLV knows him as the guy who is going to be a doctor.”

When Nava isn’t at school, he works, participates in his fraternity Kappa Sigma, interns, attends monthly philanthropic walks and manages to squeeze in a social life.

Nava is a substitute teacher who tutors children in multiple science subjects as well.

For UNLV’s chapter of Kappa Sigma, Nava is their grand master of ceremonies and has also held multiple positions such as director of philanthropy, scholarship chair and brotherhood chair. He is beloved by his fellow brothers.

“Jeff is the type of person you can always count on to have your back no matter what the circumstance,” said Ryan Caulfield, a Kappa Sigma member. “He exemplifies what it means to be a Kappa Sigma, and he makes me extremely proud to call him a brother.”

This year, as their director of philanthropy, Nava coordinated Kappa Sigma’s philanthropy event called Boot Camp, which raised over $10,000 for wounded veterans. This broke the record of most money raised at a fraternity philanthropic event. Kappa Sigma held the previous record as well.  Boot Camp also included a blood drive for the United Blood Service and hair donations to Locks of Love.

“When I think of a brother that represents my fraternity perfectly, I think of Jeff Nava,” said Zach McKee, Kappa Sigma member. “Not only is he an honorable and courageous person, but he is a humble one. He successfully ran our Boot Camp philanthropy, which raised over $10,000 dedicated to military heroes and not once has he boasted about that accomplishment.”

While balancing school, work, and fraternity life, Nava is also a research intern at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

On top of that, Nava attends philanthropic walks as often as possible. He most recently did the Suicide Prevention Walk and the Blood Clot Disorder Walk.

“Jeff is a selfless and caring person. He’ll do just about anything for the people he loves. He is dedicated in everything he does and never gives up,” Velazquez said. “Very few people I know will go out and give their all to whatever they do, but Jeff is definitely one of them.”

Somehow, Nava manages to have a social life. He loves to spend time with friends, listen to his favorite musician Jason Mraz and go to local day and night clubs to hear his top DJs.

Jeff is also fluent in Spanish and Norwegian. He has traveled all over the world. He’s been to Mexico, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, England, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and the Netherlands. He is headed to Canada this summer.

“I want to travel the whole world,” Nava said.

His future plans include: getting a master’s degree in neuroscience in Norway, going to medical school, studying the brain, dedicating his life to neurophysiological research to prove that there are more than five senses, and making his friends and family proud.

Jeff Nava may only be 24, but he has accomplished more than some people will in a lifetime.

“I’m not really much of a bragger. It’s hard talking about the things that I’ve done,” Nava said.

But when you have accomplished as much as he has, others will do the talking for you.


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