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L AdamsLeslie Adams is a doctoral student in the Health Behavior program. She studies care-seeking behaviors and mental health service inequities among marginalized populations.

1. What made you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have always loved research, but I never knew this career pathway was possible until I became exposed to the public health field following my bachelor’s degree. After learning more about the role of health policy and health behavior in shaping critical life outcomes, I enrolled in an MPH program. At graduation, I realized I wasn’t finished! I wanted to be able to guide my own research agenda and create sustainable pathways to mental well-being in my own community. I am pursuing a PhD in Health Behavior to accomplish these goals.

2. What’s the thing you love most about Chapel Hill?

Compared to other institutions, it has been incredibly easy to connect with amazing individuals and research in Chapel Hill. There are so many collaborations, panels, speakers, and interesting projects going on at Carolina and the Triangle area. Also, it’s so fun to watch Carolina basketball in Chapel Hill…everyone is so excited!

3. If you had any advice for someone thinking about pursuing a graduate degree, what would it be?

Think critically about the reasons why you are pursuing this degree. There will be times, especially on the road to a PhD, where you must remember why you are passionate about the work and the degree. If your guiding reasons for receiving a degree are not rooted in your interests and passions, it will be a very challenging (but not impossible) road. My second piece of advice is to “find your people”. When you enter your program, it is crucial to find peers and mentors that will provide support as you experience your successes and failures. Create a strong support group and they will guide you in the right direction.

4. What is your dream career after you’ve completed your studies?

After I take a long and hard-earned vacation, I plan to pursue a career in academia. In this role, I hope to leverage existing policies and advocate for appropriate reforms to create sustainable improvements in the mental health care system.  I am passionate about cultivating participatory and community-engaged methods in my research and hope to attain strong community partners to move this work forward.

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