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Hi readers! My name is Andrea Santiago, I am a senior from Union, New Jersey, double majoring in Psychology and Public Policy, with a minor in Education, and I am thrilled to be here as a Gil Intern this fall.

Starting my journey at Carolina, I had a broad sense of what my interests were and how I wanted to pursue them. After having meaningful experiences in and out of the classroom, I have found my passion for health promotion, advocacy, and education studies with overlaps in psychology. Through the Gil Internship program, I have been offered the great privilege to intentionally immerse myself in overlapping concentrations and forge my path with support from the Psychology and Neuroscience department, young professionals, and the research community at UNC. If I were to look back and “connect the dots” on my Carolina experience, I feel proud to be where I am now and am eager to see what this journey will bring this fall.

My passions for health promotion, advocacy, and education have grown and have been informed by research. Last year, I was able to be a part of research efforts at the Jones Lab, managed by Dr. Deborah Jones, with the Audio Team to analyze and segment audio files used to help inform and further along with research on how demographic aspects of family impact normal and abnormal development. Using this technology, we were able to operationalize emotional reactions in young children to small tasks given by their caregivers. The philosophy at the Jones lab informed my interest in taking a multidisciplinary approach to work in developmental psychology. Through this research, I have gained insights into the importance of investing in young children through advocacy roles, non-profit work, community leadership, and psychological intervention work. Having the opportunity to pursue research at Carolina has given me the chance to have an inside look into these areas beyond the classroom.

This fall, I have been placed to work with the 3-C Family Services team in Cary, NC as a part of my Gil Internship. 3C Family Services is a private practice that utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to promote child health and development, strengthen family relationships, and provide a variety of treatment options for patients. The practice offers a variety of services to include: individual therapy, medication management, testing, dialectical behavior therapy, group counseling, and family work. During my time at 3C, I have been working under the guidance of my mentor Dr. Lori Schweickert. Dr. Schweickert is a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders and also acts as the Medical Director at 3C.

During my first three weeks at 3-C Family Services, I have been able to take on special projects, scribe, and learn about elements of the practice as they pertain to treatment methods, approaches, and research-based efforts. In addition, I have been attending weekly case conferences with the clinicians on board where the organization’s team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers work as a team to discuss current cases and treatment plans. In this space, I can offer my perspective and also observe how in providing comprehensive care for every patient and allowing for diverse insight into each individual’s life experiences. This fall, I hope to learn more about the dialectical behavioral therapy team (DBT), conduct literature researches, and expand my understanding of various tools, databases, and methods surrounding research-based practices.

With my interests being in Clinical and Developmental Psychology this worksite placement was very ideal for me, and I have the Gil Internship to thank for this opportunity. Although it has only been three weeks, the program has already guided my passions in the field of psychology and has exposed me to what real-world experiences may look like down the road in this area. I look forward to what this fall will bring, and learning about what the fellow Gillers are up to as well!

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