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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.
Ashley, 17
Bound Brook High School- Bound Brook, NJ

Ashley strives to help create a better environment in her school and in her community. Having to deal with mental health issues of her own, she has gained valuable insights into the isolation and challenges teens can go through. Her goal is to help other teens realize that they are not alone with their struggles and to destigmatize mental health as aberrant or taboo. As a means towards this goal, Ashley is working on creating a mental health and psychological well-being club at Bound Brook High School during her senior year. She enjoys making art and being out in nature in her free time. Her dream is to attend Rutgers New Brunswick in hopes to pursue a career as a Clinical Social Worker in college.

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Ashvin, 17
Metuchen High School- Metuchen, NJ
RISE Student Co-lead

Ashvin is a senior who is passionate about mental health advocacy and resource accessibility. He decided to join the RISE team after witnessing problems with mental health transparency in his school. As a RISE Team Co-lead, Ashvin wants to help his peers start initiatives to destigmatize mental health and break down barriers to treatment. Ashvin is a Co-Founder of Myndful, the world's first machine learning mental health resource navigator helping high school students nationwide more easily access and understand mental health resources. Ashvin is currently working with schools across New Jersey to deploy Myndful on their websites making it easier for high school students to find support. In the future, Ashvin intends to attend college and pursue studies bridging the field of computer science with healthcare and policy. In his high school, Ashvin is a leader in his school's mental health club Bring Change To Mind where he has helped lead numerous initiatives to facilitate open discussions about mental health. In his free time, Ashvin enjoys spending time with family hiking outdoors and playing tennis.

Daniel, 16
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.

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Eshani, 17
Montville Township High School- Montville, NJ
RISE Community Liaison Co-lead

From a young age, Eshani has been fascinated by observing the ways in which those around her interact with one another. Specifically, Eshani is passionate about addressing the mental health of peers in her school and finding mindful ways to improve anxiety and depression from high school pressures. In an effort to accomplish this, she has started the Social Sciences Club with a focus on mental health initiatives, and also interns with a non-profit organization called Mend the Gap, which focuses on destigmatizing mental health across generations. She is excited to work with the RISE team because it provides an opportunity to further understand mental health effects on teens and use this to inform and improve the mental health around her, which Eshani believes is just as important as other education provided in her school. In her spare time, Eshani loves hanging out with her friends and playing tennis! In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in psychology and sociology with a focus on quantitative research.

Fatou, 18
THINK Global High School- Teaneck, NJ

After dealing with her own mental health struggles in middle school, Yeli became passionate about combating poor teen mental health. This inspired her to develop Seventh, an international award-winning app that employs enjoyable music-based strategies to promote greater mental and emotional wellness in teenagers. Developed under the mentorship of licensed music therapists, Seventh uses a unique music-for-wellness approach to combat the ever-growing teen mental health crisis. In addition to developing Seventh, Yeli is a trained active listener on the 7 Cups platform where she provides 1-on-1 emotional support to teenagers around the world dealing with emotional issues, and her work on the benefits of music for teen mental health has been published in the Youth Medical Journal. Yeli is a part of the RISE Team to continue creating a positive impact in improving teen mental health. 

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Karie, 17
Academy of Science and Engineering- Randolph, NJ
RISE Student Co-lead

Karie is passionate about understanding and addressing high school mental health and suicide. After noticing the detrimental effects of the pandemic, she started exploring initiatives to encourage better mental health habits in students on a schoolwide scale, such as mindfulness practice. In addition, she leads school clubs including the Medical Club, Future Business Leaders of America, and herLift, and is part of a leadership council that promotes healthy choices regarding mental health, drugs, alcohol, and relationships. The RISE Team provides an opportunity to help inform her local community about mental health and suicide and destigmatize these topics. In the future, she hopes to pursue psychology and medicine, though she is still exploring related fields.

Lana, 16 
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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Niyati, 16
John F. Kennedy High School- Iselin, NJ

Niyati is a member of the RISE team, participating in research projects and testings under the Hamilton Lab. She is interested in learning about the root triggers of teen mental health and how to break down the walls of stigma. As a student-athlete, she has firsthand seen how often mental health is overlooked in high-school and hopes to change the mentality. She hopes to be the spokesperson to her school faculty and administrators, about implementing policies and activities to normalize the conversation of mental health and its research. She is part of SPTS, Society of Teen Preventions Suicide, and helps garner support for in-school mental health initiatives such as guest speakers or therapy craft nights. Niyati hopes to persue business/finance with a minor in psychology. She enjoys watching her favourite shows and cooking in her free time.

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 the Board of Education Representative in Student Council, 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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Sarayu, 17
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North- Plainsboro, NJ

Sarayu is a senior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North. She recently became interested in mental health after experiencing mental health issues of her own during the pandemic. Since then, she’s become very passionate about researching and advocating for better mental health for teens. Sarayu also is involved within her school as she is a leader for many clubs, including Student Council and the Waksman Research Club. She is musically inclined as well as she plays the viola, and she hopes to explore the connection between music and mental health in more detail in college. She is very excited to be part of the RISE Team at Rutgers and is looking forward to learning more about mental health to be able to have a positive impact on her own community. Sarayu believes it’s important to take what she has learned from her experiences and help others on their own journeys to overcoming mental health struggles. In the future, Sarayu hopes to pursue a career in psychology and medicine.

Shakthi, 15
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.

Sneha, 17 
North Brunswick Township High School- North Brunswick, NJ
RISE Community Liaison Co-lead

After dealing with her own mental health struggles throughout middle and high school, Sneha, a senior in high school, became interested in cultivating better mental health practices and advocacy for teens, especially high school students. She joined the RISE team because of her passion for promoting healthier mental health habits for teens around her and raising awareness of the importance of mental health, which led her to serve as Community Liaison Co-Leader of the Hamilton Lab’s RISE Youth Advisory Board. To further her love of psychology, Sneha works in research internships centered around clinical psychology research at local universities to craft solutions to various healthcare issues surrounding mental health. Outside of RISE, Sneha leads school organizations, including Model United Nations, Human Rights Coalition, and National Honor Society. In the future, Sneha wishes to attend college and pursue a degree in psychology with a minor in either neuroscience or cognitive science in hopes of becoming a psychiatrist and resolving issues centered around mental health

Sobechi, 16
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.

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Navya, 16 
Academy for Health and Medical Sciences at Somerset Vocational and Technical Highschool- Bridgewater, NJ

Navya is a junior at the Academy for Health and Medical Sciences. She has been a part of many mental health-related initiatives in school, and she's also currently working on a paper in relation to how medicine affects the mental illnesses of children. 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 is also a part of the Spanish National Honors Society and the Applied Biosciences and Medicine Club at her school. She plans on majoring in Statistics in college. In her free time, Navya enjoys playing the piano and visiting national parks.

RISE Team Alumni

Sydney, 2021-2022
Gill St. Bernard- Bridgewater, NJ
Cornell University
Christian, 2021-2022
New Brunswick Health Sciences Technology High School
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
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