Yamalis became an intern at Project L/EARN her final year at Livingston College, where she had been a double major in Psychology and Sociology, while also pursuing a certificate in Criminology. Her research interests focused specifically on children and adolescents in need, and their relationship with various factors such as poverty, neglect and mental illness. Yamalis also had previous volunteer experience with children when she had been an intern at the New Brunswick Head Start program as part of the CASE (Citizenship And Service Education) program.
As an intern, Yamalis worked with Dr. Kathy Pottick on a research project that had analyzed the effects of insurance and facility ownership on the inpatient length of stay of mentally ill children and adolescents. Her experience as a Project L/EARN intern inspired her to revise her educational goals. Previously, she had only hoped to attain a Master’s degree. After the program, however, she had felt more willing to work longer and harder in her post-graduate studies, treading towards a Psy.D. in school psychology.
Yamalis reminisced on growing up in a town that was predominately White, and being the only minority student in her graduating high school class. She had stated, “[I] would definitely recommend Project L/EARN to other minority students interested in health fields because the research experience you gain definitely boosts your chances of getting into, and succeeding in, gradate school.”