What do you do?
I am interested in mindfulness research. In particular, I am interested in implementing mindfulness-based interventions to underserved youth in public schools. As a grad student, my job is to study hard, work hard and to stay up-to-date with the current research to make sure children are getting the most helpful interventions in schools. I joined the School Mental Health Lab in order to cultivate healthy minds and support schools in this way. Whether this is by doing scientific research, providing mental health services to local public schools, or disseminating research - it is my goal to support youth mental health.
Why did you choose this field?
I chose this particular field because I grew up in a low-income household and went to under-resourced schools throughout my life. Although I come from a Buddhist background, I didn’t know what it meant to “be in the present” or how to meditate properly at a young age. As an adult, I practice mindfulness but fully acknowledge how difficult it could be to take some time out of the day to do so. The older we get, our daily pattern and routine becomes harder to adjust and adapt. Because of this, I realized that teaching children mindfulness at a young age would be a great way to introduce a skill that could potentially become second nature. It has always been my goal to help underserved youth since I was one of them. I saw firsthand the disadvantages that families and children encountered from lack of resources and for that reason, I am pursuing this field to give back to the community.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
The fact that I made it to graduate school is a major achievement for me. This has been a lifelong goal and I feel blessed to have made it this far. High school Mary would have never thought that she’d become a scientist. I wish younger me would have known that females could become scientist too!
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love working in STEM because I am able to pursue topics that I am passionate about as well as discover new things on a daily basis. I wake up looking forward to the changes I am making in supporting youth mental health.
Best advice for next generation?
No matter what your background is or where you come from, you can be anything you want to be. Listen to what your heart says instead of what others say. As long as you love and see value in what you’re doing, you’re on the right path.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” - Thich Nhat Hanh