My name is Jasmine Padgett and I am a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in cognitive science. During my time at UNC, I have participated in undergraduate research that has helped shaped my interests in psychology. In the Penn Lab led by Dr. David Penn, I have participated in several different research projects centered around schizophrenia and psychosis. I have also worked in the Strengths, Assets, and Resilience (STAR) Lab led by Dr. Shauna Cooper. My primary research interests are race-related stress and culturally informed treatments for racial/ethnic minorities. I was able to explore these interests in the McNair Scholars Program, where I completed an independent project on race-related factors that influence social cognitive and neurocognitive assessments for Black women. In the future, I hope to go to graduate school for clinical psychology and develop community-based culturally informed treatments for underserved populations.
This semester I am interning at Threshold Clubhouse in Durham, NC. Threshold is a rehabilitation center for adults with severe and persistent mental illness. Threshold seeks to engage its members in meaningful work and relationships to facilitate recovery. Some ways that Threshold accomplishes this is by providing educational classes, recreational activities, and case management services to members. Additionally, members are encouraged to work in the kitchen unit, clerical unit, employment unit, and/or the community garden. Threshold is all about working with people, not for people. Members are seen as autonomous individuals who play an active role in their recovery. One way that this is accomplished is by working with members to create person-centered treatment plans every six months. Threshold functions as a tool to help members reach their goals and increase their quality of life.
During my time as an intern, I have been able to help with several projects to further Threshold’s mission of supporting members. One of my more continuous tasks each week is to socialize with members and build relationships. I see this as the most rewarding aspect of my job because it has helped me empathize with the population that Threshold serves. I also produce Threshold’s monthly newsletter by consolidating articles written by members. Additionally, I am working on a resource booklet with important aid sources in Durham. The purpose of this project is to consolidate resources on housing, food, Medicaid, etc. to help handle member emergencies as they come up. Lastly, I have been helping with recreational programming as needed. Last month I helped facilitate programming for Black History Month, which was very exciting for the members.
Working at Threshold has expanded my knowledge of community-based interventions. This experience has also illuminated how much work is still left to be done. My mentor Ali Swiller, the Associate Director of Threshold, has taught me a lot about mental health policy in North Carolina. Oftentimes members of Threshold experience hardship due to gaps in mental health policy. Learning about this side of mental health care has been very useful, and I hope to build on this knowledge throughout my career. I am grateful for the experience of interning at Threshold. Spending quality time with members is always a highlight of my week. This experience has taught me so much over the past two months. I am excited to keep learning and working towards a career in mental health.