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Hey! I’m Katie Fesperman, a senior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina majoring in Psychology, Sociology, and minoring in Neuroscience. Growing up I’d always been interested in knowing why we are the way we are. I’ve also always been interested in understanding the social premiums around the world. I wanted a way to merge my two primary interests- psychology and sociology, and I think social psychology does a good job at that. While in college, I got involved in three laboratories: the Deepest Beliefs Lab headed by Dr. Kurt Gray, the Social Neuroscience and Health Lab with Dr. Keely Muscatell, and the Brain and Early Experience Lab with Dr. Cathi Propper. I’m currently still with Dr. Gray doing a Senior Honors Thesis investigating how online content moderation impacts conformity and the political implications of that. I’m also still with Dr. Muscatell researching neurological underpinnings in relation to socioeconomic status. Both labs have been quite valuable to me by helping carve out my interests.

However, this semester I wanted to pursue something relatively unrelated to my previous work experience. This fall, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety in the Behavioral Health Services division with my supervisor, Charles Mautz as a clinical intern. The primary mission of the Behavioral Health Services division is to identify offenders who need treatment and then provide them with that treatment. The specific sector I worked in looked at four specific types of offenders to allocate treatment to: offenders in restrictive housing, developmentally disabled offenders, offenders in group homes for the chronically ill, and sexual offenders.

While with the NCDPS, I’ve researched a variety of topics to inform the correctional system’s administration ways to improve treatment for offenders. I’ve found ways to screen and measure sexual offender treatment, transfer large data sets of restrictive housing information, and research how COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of offenders, frontline workers, and the general public. Usually, an intern like myself would be in Raleigh where Central Prison is located, but due to the tragic state of the world, I did all my work from my home which limited my experience a bit. However, my experience was ameliorated by my awesome supervisor, Charles Mautz, who made work interesting and dynamic.

Charles graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a B.A in psychology. Afterwards, he was introduced to the correctional system through a clinical program. Most of Charles’ work is administrative; he is the big picture guy in charge of maintaining and developing programs to improve and inform the system of better ways to help offenders. Charles, Dr. Steven Buzinski, Chelsea Ewing, the other interns, and everyone working with the Gil have helped me envision my future career paths and interests. Because of this program, I’ve seen what really goes into treating offenders and that’s something I can imagine myself doing later on.


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