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Hi everyone! My name is Yulee Leon and I am a senior majoring in psychology (B.S.) and minoring in data science. This semester through the Gil Internship I interned at innovation, Research & Training (iRT). iRT is a behavioral sciences research company based in Durham that conducts translational science by using research to create evidence-based products and resources that directly help youth, family, and the community. Some of iRT’s research and products include assessment tools for children’s social-cognitive and emotional abilities, mindfulness education, media literacy education, and workplace wellness tools and resources with a focus on small businesses. iRT also has a focus on mentoring and during my time at iRT, I helped with the development of a science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) mentoring training module.

One of the main issues in STEM is the lack of diversity. This lack of diversity is problematic, not only due to issues with equity, but also because diversity is an asset that leads to better problem solving and performance. Another problem in STEM is that there are more STEM careers available than people going into STEM fields. iRT focuses on increasing the recruitment and retention of people from underrepresented groups in STEM, such as first-generation college students, people from racial or ethnic minorities, women, and people with disabilities. The goal of the STEM mentoring training module is to train STEM mentors to mentor students from these underrepresented groups. It does this by teaching mentors about implicit bias, stereotype threat, and cultural competence, among other lessons.

Before I did this internship, the process of developing a product was a vague concept to me. Through my time at iRT I got to better understand the process and be a part of it. I learned what a phase I grant is and that the phase I grant for the STEM mentoring module was meant to fund a prototype of the product and to test the usability and feasibility of the product. I mostly helped with creating the prototype by gathering images that could be used in the STEM mentoring training module. These were images depicting a mentor and mentee in different STEM scenarios such as working in a lab or examining plants. I also helped create the narration for the module by using an AI voice lab and entering the module script into to the voice lab and editing it to get the AI voice to sound as instructed. Near the end of my internship, I got to test out a section of the module that was completed and it was satisfying to see it put together. It was also insightful to be able to give feedback about the usability of the module and where some pop ups or buttons might be better placed. I learned that I like the back and forth of creating a product like this and seeing it improve. It was also really rewarding because I know the finished product will have a positive impact through the mentors and mentees it will reach. I would like to thank my mentor Dr. Katie Stump for curating the work I got to do at iRT and Dr. Janis Kupersmidt for being a great president and founding an amazing company! I would also like to thank Emily Dolegowski and Dr. B for the work they put into selecting us, placing us with an organization, and helping us grow and develop professionally. Being a Gil Intern was a wonderful opportunity!

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