When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
A short story author, botanist, dog trainer, video game designer, sculptor, chocolatier, mixologist. I guess none of them are completely improbable at this point, and I think my wide variety of interests has contributed to my interdisciplinary fields of study. Regardless of whatever occupation interested me, I’ve always wanted to bring joy into other people’s lives, and this continues to hold true in what I do today.
RESEARCH IN 5 WORDS:
“Diversity matters in mental health.”
Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose your field of study.
I feel like many people at one point or another have aspired to change the world, but I’ve found that to be overwhelming. When I was interning for a primary care doctor my senior year of high school, I realized that the best doctors, psychologists, and social workers all share an incredibly generous and rewarding skill of being able to change the world for one person at a time. I chose psychology so I could learn more about how different people view and interact with the world based on their own biology and environmental factors.
Tell us about a time you encountered a tricky problem. How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?
My high school was less than half an hour down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary, and the pain and grief that I saw take over our area after the shooting six years ago left a permanent mark on my life. After the Parkland school shooting in February, I learned to channel that negative energy through work with UNC psychologist Eric Youngstrom and members of Helping Give Away Psychological Science (HGAPS), a group dedicated to compiling and uploading resources for dealing with the psychological trauma of school shootings. I coordinate the production of infographics and visually-appealing displays that HGAPS works hard to compile. I’ve learned how passionate individuals and small groups can make positive and impactful change, and that has been the most inspiring and encouraging thing I have learned as an undergraduate student.
What are your passions outside of science?
Public service. I am a Buckley Public Service Scholar, and I combine my passions for research and public service through my involvement with HGAPS. I am also minoring in social and economic justice in hopes of learning how I can best contribute to a fairer and more equitable society.