Caleigh Cassidy, a senior psychology major at Colorado College, is interning with Equitas this summer. Learn more about Caleigh in the Q&A below.
1.) Are you a Colorado native? If not, where are you from originally and what brought you here?
I’m a New Jersey native. As an East Coast dweller my whole life, I decided to change things up and experience the beauty of this part of the country. I fell in love with Colorado College, a small liberal arts school at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Ever since, Colorado has had my heart.
2.) Why did you choose to major in psychology?
I took Advanced Placement psychology in high school and found it refreshing to learn information that felt personally relevant and applicable to everyday life. I am fascinated by how psychologists tackle big questions like why we act the way we do. Psychology gave me the knowledge and tools to understand my world and the people within it. I left that class with a lot of questions of my own and topics I wanted to explore further.
3.) What interested you about interning with Equitas?
Last summer, I learned about Equitas’ work at the NAMI National Convention in Denver. At the time, I was creating a website on the history of Colorado prisons. I was eager to learn more about the contemporary work being done at the intersection of mental health and criminal justice. Over the past year, I kept myself updated on the Equitas Newsletter. I was impressed by the projects the organization was involved in. I wanted an internship where I felt I was making a meaningful contribution to an issue I care deeply about. I feel confident that Equitas is supporting critical reform efforts both locally and nationally, and I feel very fortunate to be part of the team.
4.) What types of projects will you be working on?
One of my main projects will be to conduct research on different topics related to behavioral health and criminal justice with the goal of creating infographics.
5.) At this time, what your goals for after you graduate?
After I graduate, I aspire to work in mental health advocacy/education or in a mental health facility. I intend to gain more hands-on experience before pursuing my PhD in clinical psychology. I ultimately want to be a practicing clinical psychologist working with the most vulnerable populations.
6.) Who or what inspires you?
Kay Redfield Jamison is someone I look up to and whose work inspires me. In addition to being a renowned researcher in the study of bipolar disorder, Jamison has opened up about her own experience with the illness through eloquent books such as An Unquiet Mind. She balances being a writer, scholar, educator, and mental health advocate – pretty much everything I aspire to be. I met her once and was completely star struck.
7.) Three things you can’t live without?
Avocados, coffee, and my dog Marley and cat Daffodil.
8.) What are you currently reading or watching?
I’m currently reading No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers.
9.) What are some recent projects—school related, volunteer related, or work related—that you’ve enjoyed?
I recently became certified as an Ending the Silence presenter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This program involves going into high schools to open up dialogue about mental health with the purpose of helping students recognize the warning signs while reducing any stigma in seeking help. My part of the presentation involves telling my story, which inspired me to create a similar event at my college. As a result, this past spring I organized a Mental Health Storytelling event on campus for students to come together and break the stigma surrounding mental illness. The fact that students came to this event, expressed that they benefitted from it, and asked me to make it a regular occurrence keeps me excited and motivated to continue this work.
10.) What’s your favorite place to go to in Denver (or Colorado)?
As a vegetarian, I love the restaurant Watercourse in Denver. It’s so exciting to be able to order anything on a menu. In terms of outdoor recreation, I love trail running in Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
Edit: Caleigh presented her final report on Tuesday, August 15th.