On Location: Active Minds Conference

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ding-dong! We are now arriving at Union Station, Washington DC. That was my wake-up call en route to the psychology research conference I presented at last Friday. I jerked awake, covered by my giant teal coat, and started fumbling for my bags on the seat beside me, both excited and nervous to be embarking on a completely new experience.

Last Friday, I attended the Active Minds Emerging Scholars Conference to present my preliminary research for a project that I'll be doing until June about college-aged Asian American women and their attitudes towards mental health and counseling. I'm excited to note that there is a blogging component to my project, so all you readers out there will be the first to know as I go further into my work. But for now, I'd like to talk about the conference itself.

I woke up at 4:30am, took the train at 6am, and hit DC around 9am. As I am not a morning person, it was a minor miracle for me to be able to be coherent enough to get myself to Penn Station and to navigate the DC streets once I arrived. However, I mustered through and arrived on time to a conference room in the very nice APCO building.

We began our day with presentations, and I was the second to go (you can imagine my nerves!). There are 6 of us Fellows, mostly graduate students, with a mix of research-oriented and qualitative projects that were all highly fascinating to hear about. Along with us were our mentors and advisers, the people who will help us along the way during these next few months. Once we had finished sharing our projects, they took the stage and talked to us about their own experiences in a wide variety of behavioral health fields.

I was privileged enough to learn about projects on undocumented students' mental health, speaker impact, eating disorders and perceived need for help, body image culture, and the relationship between ADHD and major depressive disorder. I got to hear from a cultural anthropologist, a psychology researcher, an art therapist, and a health promotion coordinator along with the fabulous people who started, fund, and run the Active Minds organization. Needless to say, I was networking like mad! All of these fabulous people in one room together? Amazing.

At 4pm that day, my brain was definitely overloaded, but I felt privileged and inspired by all the minds in the room. They really cemented for me that this is the work I want to be doing and will want to continue far into the future. As for the end of the day, I got on the train right back to NYC (hey, no one said I had to feel inspired by DC itself) - ready for some amazing work to come - and promptly fell asleep.

I attended a bunch of amazing events this weekend and they just keep coming! Tomorrow, I'll be talking about my time at the Feminist Zine Fest.