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Seen and Heard: From math to English to psychology

August 12, 2018

Lili Rothschild at the Assocation for Psychological Science (APS) Annual Convention in San Francisco. She was presenting work on how ovarian hormones may influence the relationship between anxiety and working memory.

The mentorship program offered through Rochester Public Schools not only affords high school students opportunities to explore interests outside of a traditional classroom setting, but can also be a stepping stone for future careers.

Lili Rothschild, Century High School Class of 2013, is one such student, whose mentorship placement positioned her for success in her present-day studies.

As a student who loved math and had strong quantitative skills, ironically enough, it was an English class assignment (“interpret a novel from a psychoanalytical perspective”) that led Lili into the world of psychology. The process piqued her interest, and during her senior year of high school she was matched with a mentor, Dr. Stephen Whiteside, a clinical psychologist and director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Program at Mayo Clinic.

Reading countless literature reviews on anxiety and immersing herself in the research, Lili found her professional calling.

After earning a degree in psychological science and statistics with a minor in neuroscience from Gustavus Adolphus College (Class of 2017), Lili was accepted into Michigan State University’s doctoral program in clinical psychology. As part of the application process, she highlighted Dr. Whiteside’s impact on her and described her mentor as “influential and inspirational.”

This past June, after finishing the first of six years in the doctoral program, Lili learned she was a winner of the Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This prestigious award will fund the next three years of Lili’s graduate studies, as she continues her research, which is “a blend of psychology and neuroscience and focuses on how anxiety impacts cognition and behavior.”

Upon completion of the program, Lili hopes to secure a faculty research position with the opportunity to do clinical work part-time.

Shipping out to Madagascar

After graduating from Century High School in 2012, Hannah Soderlind did not expect to see the world from a ship. However, that is exactly the path her life has taken thus far.

Her first venture out of the United States came with some prodding from her mother, who encouraged her to take chances and try new things.

After learning about Mercy Ships from a friend, Hannah headed to Madagascar to work on board Africa Mercy, a hospital ship providing health care for those lacking medical resources.

During her six weeks on the ship, she worked as a housekeeper, cleaning the common areas of the ship. However, it was the encounters with those receiving medical care that impacted her the most.

“There were people constantly smiling everywhere that I looked,” Hannah said.

Hannah left the ship when she returned home to see her younger sister graduate from Air Force boot camp in 2015. With Hannah’s older sister already serving in the National Guard, military service seemed to be the family destiny. Hannah enlisted in the Navy that fall and headed off to boot camp in February 2016.

Although based in San Diego, Hannah, an electrician’s mate, has spent much time at sea over the last two and a half years. As “one of the youngest people to hold one of the highest qualifications in the engineering department” aboard the USS Lake Champlain, Hannah played an essential role this summer during the “largest international maritime warfare exercise,” Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).

This year, RIMPAC, held in Hawaii, included 26 nations, 46 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 people. RIMPAC provides realistic training for the armed forces of participating nations and helps maintain safety and security at sea. Hannah’s role was to keep the ship moving during the exercises, which she described as “playing war games with the other ships.”

“There are special types of people in the world that are meant for the Navy,” Hannah said. When her commitment ends in 2020, she plans to move to Austin, Texas, to attend college and start the next chapter in her life’s journey.

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