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Hi! My name is Glorimel Rodriguez, and I’m a junior from Winston-Salem, NC. I’m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Neuroscience. Ever since I took my first psychology course in high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in psychology. I love learning about the ways psychology plays out in our daily lives and the impacts that it has on our mental and physical well-being. I am currently a research assistant at Dr. Eva Telzer’s Developmental and Social Neuroscience (DSN) Lab , which explores how the social world is processed in the developing brain to impact adolescents’ wellbeing. In the past I conducted a research project with the DSN lab exploring how ethnic identity, peer susceptibility, and peer group norms influence prosocial and antisocial behavior in adolescents. I’m passionate about working with underrepresented populations and I plan to pursue a PhD in psychology so I can continue to develop and expand my research interests. As a Gil Intern with the non-profit organization, A Lotta Love, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the vulnerable and underserved community in Chapel Hill and ways in which people can help uplift them.

A Lotta Love is a nonprofit organization that serves the homeless community in Chapel Hill. A Lotta Love’s mission is to renovate shelters to create safe and emotionally inspiring spaces. They also work towards increasing awareness about homelessness in the Chapel Hill community. They are helped by many volunteers and other donors to decorate living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and other areas of shelters. Most homeless shelters in our community are funded minimally by local and state funds, instead a majority of the money received by shelters come from private donors. A Lotta Love’s overall goal is to bring hope and security to people who are homeless in the community. My mentor is the director, Charlotta Sjoelin, and my main tasks include writing grants that help fund the organization and working hands-on with the shelters to transform spaces into welcoming environments.

To write grants, I first identify foundations that could potentially support the work A Lotta Love is doing. This process can sometimes be difficult because it takes a lot of time looking through different foundations on the internet and finding the correct contact information. Once I’ve identified potential foundations, I contact them and get more information on how to start the process of applying to grants. I’ve also been working on editing a general grant that serves as a template when applying for grants to different foundations. The template definitely helps speed up the process because most of the basic information about our organization can be found in one place. For my hands-on work, I delivered room kits, which are packages that contain essentials like toiletries, blankets, pillows, etc., to a homeless shelter in Chapel Hill. I also had the opportunity to help renovate a space that will be used to house women escaping domestic abuse. I put together beds, tables, and other furniture. It’s definitely fun meeting other volunteers and knowing the work we do makes a difference in people’s lives!

Overall my experience so far has deepened my understanding of how non-profits like A Lotta Love serve the vulnerable people in Chapel Hill and other cities across NC. It’s important to use our voices to bring awareness to those who are pushed away by society. I’m excited to continue my internship at A Lotta Love and support those in need!

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