While I worked for CMH, I was surrounded by mental health disparities, poverty, trauma, a lack of resources, and services delivered solely through a medical model. There was a lack of systemic thinking within service delivery throughout the entire tri-county area. For this reasons I joined a department focused on community engaged research and disparities in order to understand how I could best improve mental health service delivery in challenging contexts; however, I was disappointed when there were not more opportunities to engage in community work. Barriers repeatedly presented themselves, blocking me from engaging in the work that I had anticipated doing- and was so excited to do. I felt like these barriers were squashing my growth as a person and a professional, limiting all potential development opportunities.
These barriers created so much frustration, and ultimately I decided I had to advocate for myself and make some major changes in my graduate school trajectory. And so… I found my way to the Community-AID Lab. Initially I had been seeking program evaluation experience, and then found so much more: mentorship, project lead opportunities, skill development, community work, and respect and genuine kindness among colleagues. These opportunities are what I had been hoping for throughout my doctoral experience. Though this journey had taken me through many twists and turns, I am happy to say that I have finally found my place in graduate school at the Community-AID Lab.