This summer I worked as a research assistant in a Yale lab run out of the Center for Wellbeing of Women and Mothers. The study I worked on, Project START, seeks to connect substance-using women to health resources in their community. These resources are already available to them; however they may not know about them. The study aims to test the effectiveness of motivational interviewing in encouraging these women to reach out to the any of the myriad of available services.
As a research assistant, I conducted screenings for eligibility at Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Women’s Center. It was amazing to work in the field and to gain first-hand experience in dealing with potential participants. Now when I read papers, I have a much greater appreciation for all of the work that goes into recruiting research patients and gathering meaningful data.
Back at the office, my main task was to prep the participants’ medication logs for data cleaning. Since the study draws to a close in a few months, the researchers want to make sure all of the data are ready. They will then do a cost-benefit analysis to determine the economic effects of their intervention. Also at the office, I met Zola, a Yale Theta working on a different project. She has just started med school, and when I spoke to her about Theta, she cited the friendships she had made and the memories she had created with her sisters as defining aspects of her undergraduate years. It was so wonderful to hear how Theta had touched her life and only reaffirmed my love for this sisterhood.
Overall, I loved working with the Project START research team. They served as incredible mentors to me. They took the time to teach, guide, and encourage me as I became familiar with the complex and rewarding world of research-everything from grant proposals to research design to data collection and analysis. At the end of the internship I presented my own research findings at a poster session. I compared the demographics of substance-using women in New Haven to those in the nation. I hope that my work will have implications for future treatment program designs across the country. I am so happy to have had this opportunity, and I look forward to applying what I’ve learned in the research field to my studies at Swat.
When I wasn’t working, I was training with Yale Masters-I even got a chance to write a few practices! Swimming with them made me appreciate the sport on much greater level-for them swimming was an inherent part of their identity-the sport did not end after college. I loved how self-motivated and dedicated these men and women were to the sport they loved. The team members all served as wonderful role models to me as I look forward to the upcoming swim season.
On the weekends, I got to explore the New Haven area. There was an incredible farmers market set up every Saturday morning just a block from my apartment. I spent several of those mornings picking out the freshest kale, tasting the most delicious breads, and even picking up a few cooking tips from the vendors and other shoppers. I also got to try new recipes this summer including my favorite-spinach-quinoa stuffed tomatoes topped with goat cheese. Whenever I wanted to escape the bustle of the city, I drove out to Sleeping Giant, a beautiful state park with magnificent hiking trails.
This summer has been amazing! I can’t believe it’s almost over. I’m looking forward to the last few weeks, and I’m so excited to get back to Swat and to catch up with everyone. I especially can’t wait to see my sisters and to welcome the new pledge class!