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Finding something that you are passionate about is really something to celebrate. It is not often that someone can’t wait to get into work on Saturday or doesn’t want to pry themselves away from a project to go out with friends. Luckily for me, the Gil internship program introduced me to the world of research, and I am hooked.  Being a Gil intern at the Neurocognitive Imaging and Research Lab (NIRL), opened my eyes to how I could apply my academic talents in a truly meaningful way. My Gil internship with NIRL enabled me to contribute to the development of a deeper understanding of the pathologies of schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I have remained inspired.

My internship was during my final semester at Carolina, and as graduation approached, I was faced with some big decisions. While there are always logistics to take into consideration, I was so moved by my time at NIRL that I knew my top priority was to help the underserved community of people impacted by mental health issues.

So, how was I going to do that? Well, I’m a chemist, so I figured that we need better drugs. Along these lines, I accepted a fellowship from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The experience was challenging and formative for me, but I was distanced from work that could positively impact the underserved mental healthcare community. With guidance of my mentors at the CDC, I applied to graduate programs in Neuroscience and Drug Development. Still fueled by desire to support the mental healthcare community, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida.

Here, I have learned incredible capabilities of the scientific research community, and how often, people are motivated by the same passion to improve healthcare that I am. Without the Gil internship program, I would have left college without an understanding of how research can be translational, and how important it is to me to be a champion for medically underserved populations. I am so grateful to the Gil internship program for pushing me to learn, grow and find my passion. Thanks guys! I owe ya one!

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