Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In my mind I'm gone to...New Orleans? The James Taylor classic, "Carolina in My Mind," often was playing in the background of many defining experiences during my time as a Tar Heel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Coined as the "southern part of heaven," Chapel Hill had been my home since 2009, and I can verify the existence of its own pearly gates. The Tar Heel state itself has been my home for all 25 years. Yet, my dream of becoming a physician directed me to Tulane University's Masters Program in Pharmacology and a studio apartment on St. Charles Avenue more than 800 miles away from "home." 

Nevertheless, I could not be happier with my decision to attend Tulane for this program so far. The faculty and staff have been extremely helpful, class is going well, and I truly feel like this year in this program is providing me exceptional preparation for medical school. Tulane's location in New Orleans is just an added bonus. With a community emphasis on service since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has made finding ways to give back to the community very easy. I have decided to do my part by helping with something very important to me, mental health awareness.

Having had family members struggle with mental illness and experiencing the ongoing effects of those associated tragedies, dedicating myself toward increasing community mental health awareness is less a decision and more a desire. I previously worked as a research assistant on a project, which recruited members from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in North Carolina for focus groups to learn about their acute behavioral health care experiences. NAMI New Orleans has accepted me as a volunteer and quickly incorporated me in the great work the organization does in this community. I am initially helping with the logistics of their major fundraiser, NAMIWalks New Orleans, a second line parade to be held on Saturday, October 15th, 2016 at 10AM (ASK ME MORE ABOUT IT). Last week, I helped pull together folders for captains and clean-up after NAMI's successful fundraiser kickoff event. My next goal is to recruit several of my peers from my program and captain my own NAMIWalks team. With roughly six weeks until the event date, there is much to do, and I will be joining an event committee focusing on one of its many moving parts to help NAMI reach its goal of raising $160,000 this year. Internet, I am very much looking forward to continuing to update you about my New Orleans experiences through my own little spin-off of James Taylor's classic. Have a good night.

August Community Service Hours - 4 hours
Cumulative Fall 2016 Community Service Hours - 4 hours