2019 Fellow Zachary Schafer, OTR/L
Undergraduate school: Sacred Heart University (2015)
Graduate school: Sacred Heart University (2018)
Professional Interest: Mental Health; Community Based Care; Research; Teaching/Academia
Why I chose UNC Health Mental Health Fellowship: The UNC Mental Health Fellowship is a unique opportunity given the pairing of a top-notch hospital system with a prestigious academic university. Each mentor is unique in both personality, therapy style, and expertise. The one-on-one time with them is invaluable. The patient population is diverse and covers the lifespan. The team your work on is large, diverse, and includes many disciplines. In addition to the clinical experience, you also get an opportunity to collaborate, teach, and research alongside the faculty of a top tier Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy program.
What I like about Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill, with the school and its rich history, there is an immediate sense of family and community. You feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself, which makes the transition easier. Triangle brings in people from all over, so there is a good mix of southern culture and diversity. Chapel Hill has plenty to keep you busy and is an excellent location to explore the state of NC. Durham, Duke, and Raleigh are all within 45 minutes and you can get to the mountains or the coast in 3hrs either direction. Much of the town is walkable, public transportation is free and the airport is close by too.
2018 Fellow Keara Palpant, OTR/L
Undergraduate school: Milligan University
Graduate school: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Professional Interest: Working with underserved populations, which right now looks like the adult mental health population, including perinatal mental health.
Why I chose UNC Health Mental Health Fellowship: I chose the UNC Health Mental Health Fellowship because I was looking for a way to continue my learning and challenge my thinking straight out of graduate school. I thought choosing to do a fellowship would be a good way to transition into practice as it would incorporate aspects of graduate school (critical thinking, research, reading and applying evidence based research) that were already routine for me, while also allowing for independent practice and mentorship. I chose mental health because psychology has always been an interest of mine and it is such a unique, specialized area of OT. Now I can say that the fellowship was a wonderful way to transition to practice, provided amazing mentorship, majorly challenged my thinking, and made me so passionate about mental health OT that now I am continuing to work in this field!
What I like about Chapel Hill: Everything. Chapel Hill is a small town and has all the benefits of a small town, while also having the rewards of being close to large cities and having a university attached to it. There is something for everyone. If you like to hike and be outdoors, great. If you enjoy going out, great, that is definitely that available. If you need a coffee shop to study, there are like 50 (kidding probably more like 15). The UNC Botanical Gardens is my favorite place to go. I also highly recommend just walking through campus. If you want to get away from the college scene, definitely go explore Durham. Actually, you should just go explore Durham no matter what.