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To integrate teens into the research process and help disseminate research to teens, we have started a new program within the lab called the RISE team, standing for Research, Innovation, Support, and Education. Our team is composed of high school students across New Jersey who are hoping to learn and contribute to mental health research and outreach in their schools and communities.

Find out more about the RISE Team here.
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Anushka, 15
Hillsborough High School - Hillsborough, NJ

Anushka is a sophomore who is passionate about mental health advocacy and spreading awareness in under-represented groups. After dealing with mental health struggles of her own during the COVID pandemic, Anushka became extremely passionate about helping other teens and removing the stigma around the topic of mental health. Anushka is a committee leader of her school’s Social Activism Club, where they discuss a variety of social issues, including mental wellbeing and health. Anushka has gained a strong interest in psychology and cognitive science because of her passions surrounding mental health, and she hopes to major in a similar field in college. In her free time, she likes listening to music, baking, singing, and exercising.

Anya, 15
Somerset County Vocational Technical High School - Hillsborough, NJ

The transition from middle school to highschool impacted several students. It was quite hard seeing my fellow classmates adjust. The constant academic pressure puts on students to achieve perfect grades while maintaining their overall well being. As a new member of the rise time I hope this year I can promote new mental health coping mechanisms for my school. I also hope to introduce new mental health resources that my classmates might have already not known. Through the rise team I hope to learn and collaborate with my peers. Outside of rise i am a member of Doctors without Borders,HOSA, and volunteer at a physical therapy clinic. In my free time I enjoy playing chess, gardening , and playing badminton. In the future I aspire to do more research in the psychology area.

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Daniel, 17
Gill St Bernards - Gladstone Peapack, NJ

Growing up, I did not see the true impact that mental health disorders can have on someone. However, after dealing with my struggles in the early years of high school, I made it my mission to spread awareness. To help people realize that mental health is just as serious as any other physical illness. Throughout the summers, I had the opportunity to meet with some physicians who specialize in the field. My encounter with doctors led me to research at the forefront of science psychiatric disorders. Today, I am actively trying to deliver speeches in areas of low income-across New Jersey. As poorer neighborhoods are disadvantaged in accessing psychiatric help if need be. I love playing soccer with my closest friends in my free time. Another hobby is walking around town, listening to music, and watching the clouds pass.

Isha, 16
Morris Hills High School - Rockaway Township, NJ

Isha is a junior who is passionate about understanding and advocating for adolescent mental health. Growing up, she noticed a lack of awareness around mental health, and hopes to change this by continuing to provide resources and research to her community. She has a strong interest in the effects of technology on adolescent mental health, and hopes to learn more about how to promote digital wellbeing to high school students. Also, she takes part in leading the Indian Cultural Club and the Red Cross New Jersey Youth Council. She also enjoys drawing, baking and going on walks. She is very excited to be a part of the RISE team and learn more about how she can positively impact adolescent mental health. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in technology and psychology.

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Julian, 18
Saint Peter's Prep - Rutherford, NJ

Throughout his time in high school, Julian has been progressively adamant in the preservation and promotion of mental wellness, stemming from the inaction and absent concern of his surrounding community. Once the idleness unveiled itself, he started a Peer Support Group as well as spear-headed other initiatives such as Diversity Board, Spanish Club, and more to foster an environment that embraces the importance of identity, self-care, and concern for others. Professionally, Julian desires to pursue a career in educational psychology, studying the classroom environment and how it can be molded to allow all students to thrive. Julian is thrilled to be a member of the RISE team with hopes of participating in active research and discovering ways to build communities where the importance of mental health is integrated into everyday life. Outside of academia, Julian loves to cox for his rowing team as well as attend concerts and listen to music!

Lana, 17 
East Brunswick High School- East Brunswick, NJ

Lana is a junior at East Brunswick High School and noticed that mental health was a big issue but was not addressed enough. She hopes to destigmatize mental health among students in her schools. Lana personally knows what it is like to struggle with mental health issues and continues to help others and herself to learn how to cope and handle different types of mental health. She became very passionate about researching more about mental health after seeing the effects of social media on herself and those around her. She is so excited to be part of the RISE Team at Rutgers to have more insight and more research experience on important matters. She loves to help others and finds it very rewarding when those around her succeed.

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Leena, 18
Ridge High School - Basking Ridge, NJ

Leena, a high school senior, is a passionate advocate for teen mental health within minority groups. Through her self-managed social media platform, she champions the cause of positive mental health while embracing her faith. Leena firmly believes in the compatibility of faith and therapy, aiming to eradicate the misconception that the two are at odds. Her journey into the realm of mental health advocacy began within her church, where she witnessed the silent struggles of many individuals. Fueled by this, she founded "Healing Hearts," a student organization dedicated to educating and providing unwavering support to those dealing with mental health challenges. Driven by her aspiration to become a Pediatrician, Leena finds joy in crafting research papers and articles on mental health, further establishing her influence in the field. Her recent involvement with the RISE team reflects her eagerness to explore the role of mental health in teenagers' lives. Leena intends to leverage her newfound insights to make meaningful contributions to her school community and other organizations she's part of.

Navya, 17 
Academy for Health and Medical Sciences at Somerset Vocational and Technical Highschool - Bridgewater, NJ

Navya is a senior at the Academy for Health and Medical Sciences. She is a motivated student passionate about learning more about mental health and emotional well-being. Mental health is crucial because it impacts how we feel, behave, and cope with life, and it also determines how we decide on and make important choices. By working with the RISE team at Rutgers, Navya believes that she will be able to make a greater impact on her community. Navya leads the neuroscience club at her school, takes part in student council, and competes in SkillsUSA. She also leads many mental health related initiatives in order to decrease the stigma surrounding the topic and promote safer environments for people struggling with mental health related issues. She plans on majoring in psychology or neuroscience in college. In her free time, Navya enjoys cycling and visiting national parks!

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Nithila, 17
Edison High School - Edison, NJ

Nithila has seen her loved ones reach lows that utterly debilitate them. As someone who's undergone mental health issues and who luckily had an incredible support system, she understands how isolating those experiences are and how community can bring people out from rock bottom. She joined the RISE team to start a mental health club that promotes acceptance, openness, and awareness at her school. Nithila does her best to create an accepting environment by being an active member of her school Rotary Club, volunteering at her local YMCA, and helping out at her church's food pantry. She loves going to the gym, chatting with her friends, and listening to music in her free time. She aims to pursue psychology in college and serve her community by becoming a social worker.

Rhea, 17
South Brunswick High School - Monmouth Junction, NJ

Rhea hopes to create tangible changes in teen mental health issues through research and advocacy. In school, Rhea is Student Council Vice President, team captain for Asian Cultural Club, and a member of Student Senate. Beyond that, she is a trusted student with a deep understanding of her peers. In her free time she enjoys going to the gym, dancing, and spending time with her loved ones. She also volunteers with an NGO called NAMI (National Institute of Mental Illness) allowing her to further her interest in Psychology. By being a part of the RISE team, she hopes to better  understand mental health processes. Rhea wants to help those around her and create a meaningful impact.

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Ryan, 15
Ridgewood High School - Ridgewood, NJ

Ryan, a sophomore at Ridgewood High School, is driven by a genuine passion for psychology and mental well-being. As the Vice President of the Psychology Club, he is actively engaged in promoting the field within a supportive environment for his peers. Beyond academics, Ryan's love for basketball has become essential to his identity, reflecting his commitment to growth and discipline. Ryan is particularly intrigued by the intersection of sports and mental health, recognizing its relevance today. Through collaboration and research, he aims to advocate for mental health awareness, helping other students rise above challenges.

Shakthi, 16
Woodbridge Academy Magnet School - Woodbridge, NJ

Shakthi has always been intrigued about the varying factors that are influencing mental health in adolescents. She is interested in how these factors influence individuals in different ways, but more importantly, how to guide teens just like herself through adolescent life while maintaining the delicate balance between mental health and overall well-being. Shakthi knows that one of the best ways to achieve this goal is through increased awareness. While mental health resources are more readily available, their reach is still quite limited. She is dedicated to bringing understanding to teens, rather than reducing them to the “typical moody teenager”. Through the RISE Team, Shakthi hopes to learn about the ins and outs of adolescent mental health, how to connect peers and the public to mental health resources, and different research methodologies. In her free time, Shakthi enjoys playing badminton, creating art, and hiking. She aspires to become a compassionate clinician in the future.

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Sobechi, 17
The Wilberforce School- Bordentown, NJ

After a rough, isolating transition into high school due to the pandemic, Sobechi became passionate about destigmatizing mental health struggles. As a member of the RISE Team, Sobechi aims to help other teens who went through similar struggles, as well as educate herself and those around her about mental health. In her free time, she reads science fiction novels, makes sketches of people around her, listens to music (and tries to make her own), and overanalyzes movies and TV shows.

Tanya, 17
Academy of Allied Health and Sciences - Marlboro
, NJ

​​Tanya strives to help create a better environment in her school and community and support the mental health of others. After experiencing her own struggles with mental health, she understands challenges of mental health issues. She joined the RISE team to promote healthier mental health habits for teens around her and raise mental health awareness. Outside of RISE, Tanya leads school organizations, including Key Club, School Wellness Club, and Science Club. She wants to help others feel supported and to destigmatize mental health. In the future, Tanya wishes to study neuroscience and psychology and work to improve mental health care and research. In her free time, she reads, listens to music, and watches movies.

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Vaishnavi, 16
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North - West Windsor,
 NJ

Vaishnavi is a junior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. She is passionate about promoting mental health awareness and resources for individuals of all ages. As the Treasurer of her school's mental health club, Healyu, and also as a volunteer with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), she actively contributes to advancing mental health initiatives. In addition to her mental health advocacy, Vaishnavi is the founder of the non-profit organization Clean Water New Jersey, which is centered around environmental sustainability, through which she strives to emphasize the profound link between environment and well-being. With a keen interest in neuroscience and psychology, Vaishnavi envisions a future where she can delve deeper into these fields. Joining the RISE team will enhance her appreciation of the importance of taking care of one’s mental health and will enable her to help more people on this topic.

Vansh, 14
JP Stevens High School - Edison, NJ

Vansh is a dedicated and passionate individual committed to making a positive impact on the world. With a profound concern for the environment, he is ready to take proactive steps to contribute to a more sustainable future. Vansh has participated in various eco-friendly initiatives, such as community clean-up projects, and strives to give back to the environment. In his free time, Vansh goes to the gym, reads, or plays basketball. As a RISE member, Vansh wants to start initiatives to create a club dedicated to mental health and well-being. Vansh is working on an article about mental and social issues with the Youth Medical Journal. He wants to create a RISE club at his high school, JP Stevens High School, and spread awareness in his school and community. Through RISE, he aims to foster a safe and welcoming space for students to share their experiences, access resources, and work together to promote mental and emotional wellness within the community. In the future, Vansh hopes to spread positive awareness in the community and pursue a career in medicine.

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RISE Team Alumni

Ashley, 2021-2022 
​Bound Brook High School- Bound Brook, NJ
Ashvin, 2021-2022
Metuchen High School- Metuchen, NJ - RISE Student Co-lead
Yale University
Christian, 2021-2022 
New Brunswick Health Sciences Technology High School
Rutgers University - New Brunswick

Eshani, 2021-2022 
Montville Township High School- Montville, NJ - RISE Community Liaison Co-lead
University of Pennsylvania
Fatou, 2021-2022
​THINK Global High School- Teaneck, NJ
Karie, 2021-2022
Academy of Science and Engineering- Randolph, NJ - RISE Student Co-lead
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Niyati, 2021-2022
John F. Kennedy High School- Iselin, NJ
Sarayu, 2021-2022
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North- Plainsboro, NJ
Sneha, 2021-2022
North Brunswick Township High School- North Brunswick, NJ - RISE Community Liaison Co-lead
George Washington University
Sydney, 2021-2022
Gill St. Bernard- Bridgewater, NJ
Cornell University
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