Theresa Sharin is a rising senior at Douglass College, Rutgers University where she majors in Psychology. Originally Theresa was divided upon whether to apply to graduate school with aspirations of obtaining a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in clinical psychology. She decided to participate in Project L/EARN because she believed the program would help her figure out the best path to pursue after her undergraduate career at Rutgers. Theresa thanks a former advisor for suggesting she apply because the program provided invaluable research experience as well as a dedicated network of professionals and advisors who care about her success. Her experiences this summer have helped her settle on an educational and career path which includes a Masters in Public Heath, PhD in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in adolescents and to conduct community-based participatory research (CBPR).
Theresa’s interests lie in child/adolescent psychology. Growing up she saw that children with disabilities/mental illnesses were stigmatized and socially marginalized by their peers. In addition she recognized living in urban areas did not offer these youth comparable health care access to those from suburban areas. Theresa felt compelled to focus on this topic with the intention of improving their access to care, as well as finding solutions to their disabilities in an effort to improve their quality of life but prior to attending this summer’s research conference, the Family Research Consortium IV, in New Orleans, Theresa was unaware of methods of CBPR. Theresa states, ‘I would like to have the opportunity to do research on [urban] adolescent’s cognitive and behavioral developments …and how they differ from children…in the suburban areas.” She believes that utilizing the methods of CBPR will help develop programs that can increase urban youth’s motor, cognitive and behavioral development. Theresa looks forward to the challenges ahead with a new confidence in her ability to be a competitive applicant to graduate programs and ultimately a contributing researcher in the areas of access and care for disabled/mentally ill youth. She appreciates the Project L/EARN staff saying that “they truly care about the interns.” Theresa is excited about her relationship with her mentor, Dr. Gaboda, Theresa and is enthusiastic about the prospect of working with her during the academic year. She concludes that that the opportunity would not have come about if it were not for her involvement in Project L/EARN.