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Hello! My name is Haley Murdock, and I am a senior from Charlotte, North Carolina. I am majoring in Psychology with minors in Speech and Hearing Sciences and Music. These courses of study are all in pursuit of my goal to become a Speech-Language Pathologist.

Throughout college, I have sought opportunities that will expose me to as much of this diverse field as possible. I began research as a sophomore when I volunteered for Dr. Joseph Hopfinger and Dr. Meg Dillon in a lab that studied cochlear implants. Following this, I worked for Dr. Adam Jacks at the Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders analyzing post-stroke language disorders. Now, through the Gil Internship, I have the privilege to work for TEACCH under the mentorship of Dr. Klinger this semester. TEACCH is a program in the UNC School of Medicine that serves individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) throughout the lifespan. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life for those with ASD and provide resources for families and professionals.

In support of this mission, I serve in several roles. As a research assistant, I am currently deriving treatment subscale T-Scores from calculated raw scores to determine the severity range for social responsiveness in adolescents and young adults with ASD. The scores will be used as a moderator in a randomized control trial evaluating the efficacy of community college intervention. I have really enjoyed learning about the framework of research. My team consists of post-docs, graduate students and other professionals, and each person provides unique insight from their educational backgrounds and professional interests. It is one thing to work with data as an intern, but I have also learned much about what it takes to maintain a study, from meeting grant and IRB requirements to putting diversity at the forefront of the workplace.

Additionally, I participate in the T-STEP (TEACCH School Transition to Employment and Postsecondary Education) program. T-STEP is an intervention for 16-21 year-olds with ASD, and this semester, the program is a virtual seminar and internship experience at community colleges across North Carolina. I was surprised to learn that the rate of diagnosis of ASD has increased dramatically in the last 20 years, and with this, there is increased variability in IQ. All individuals with a diagnosis have incredible potential and deserve services that help them reach whatever goals they have set. T-STEP offers this to young adults who seek to build skills for success in careers and higher education.

Beyond learning the necessary skills to work in a professional environment, I have gained an understanding of the groundwork it takes to fulfill a mission statement. Enhancing the lives of those with ASD means researching, delivering clinical services, and providing training for the community. I am an advocate for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Community, and I hope that my professional and personal work continue to reflect these values. I have longed for a college experience that would connect me to this community, and I have found this connection in TEACCH. My team has warmly welcomed me at TEACCH, and I am extremely grateful for them. I look forward to seeing how this experience shapes me as a clinician and an advocate.

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