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My name is Taylor Le and I am a senior from Charlotte, North Carolina majoring in Psychology with a minor in Social and Economic Justice. I have always been interested in the clinical side of psychology where there is focus placed on the diagnosis, care, and treatment of patients. After graduation, I hope to attend medical school to further study the interaction between the psychological treatment of mental illness and the medical treatment of physical illness within overall healthcare. Since I have more often focused on my interests in the clinical side, I was hoping to gain more experience with psychological research. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the Fall 2018 cohort of Karen M. Gil interns as it has given me the chance to do so.

This semester, I was given the amazing opportunity to intern with the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (CEED) located within UNC Hospitals here on campus. CEED is dedicated to providing quality treatment and care for patients with eating disorders, as well as offering training and educational opportunities for medical students, residents, fellows, graduate students, interns, postdoctoral fellows, and other health professionals. Furthermore, CEED is world renown for its innovative research in improving and personalizing the diagnostic, treatment, and prevention strategies provided for patients with eating disorders. Together, the clinical/treatment team and the research team work closely to deliver the highest standard of care for patients.

As an intern at CEED, I work under the mentorship of Jessica H. Baker, PhD and Melissa A. Munn-Chernoff, PhD. The majority of my work thus far has been involved in one of their research projects, called Carolina College Assessment for Research and Education in Science (Carolina CARES). Since college years can be particularly high-risk for the development of emotional and mental health problems, this study aims to learn more about college students’ experiences and discover what factors may contribute to their emotional and mental health outcomes. Within Carolina CARES, I have been primarily working on the upkeep of codebooks containing data from previous years’ responses. This has largely been a collaborative effort between myself and the rest of the CEED research team.

Aside from the work I’ve done with Carolina CARES, I have also been able to work on my own individual research project with the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Jessica Baker. As for my research topic, I chose to study the associations between impulsivity and harmful health behaviors common in college students, specifically illicit drug use, binge drinking, and binge eating. At the conclusion of my project, I was invited to officially present my findings to the rest of the research team, even including the Founding Director of CEED, Dr. Cynthia Bulik.

Through the Gil internship, I have been able to gain valuable hands-on experience in a professional workplace where I have been challenged to apply the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired in the classroom thus far in my college career. Not only was I able to conduct my own novel research study and gain a more in-depth understanding of the research process, I have also been able to develop my professional skills in the classroom component of the internship. Through participation at several professional workshops at University Career Services, I have learned numerous ways to present myself as a competitive candidate for any of my future endeavors, whether it be applying for medical school or entering the workforce. Overall, the Gil internship has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I am tremendously thankful to have served as part of the Fall 2018 cohort.

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