Senior Profile: Sherley Mejia '23

Sherley MejiaWhat is one of your favorite memories from your time at UMass?
One of my favorite memories while at UMass was attending a “Build-a-bear” activity during freshman year. I ended up losing the teddy bear and my water bottle but it was so much fun!

How did your experiences in a club, activity, or academic field shape who you are today?
My involvement in the Psychology Dept. has provided me with various opportunities for growth. As a Research Assistant, I acquired analytical and research skills. Additionally, As a Teaching Assistant and Peer Mentor, I was able to develop my communication, collaboration, and leadership skills. Lastly, being part of the BioPioneers Residential Academic Program (RAP) allowed like-minded people, which gave me a sense of belonging and community.

Was there a particular person or class that motivated you during your time at UMass? (Shout Out!)
I have MANY people to thank for their support, I truly would not be here without them. Shoutout to my wonderful advisors Dr. Lori Best (Psych Dept.), Dr. Christina Metivier (Psych Dept.), and Dr. Linda Ziegenbein (CNS Diversity). I appreciate the encouragement and words of wisdom every time I met with you all, especially in those moments when I doubted myself the most. To my amazing PI and Faculty mentor Dr. Adam Grabell, thank you for the opportunity, I have learned so much from you. Lastly, a huge thank you to my family and all of my friends—it really takes a village. We did it!

What advice would you give to incoming UMass students?
Advice #1. Be open to trying new things! Being uncomfortable and getting out of your comfort zone can open up opportunities you never thought possible. UMass is what you make of it.
Advice #2. Give yourself some GRACE. UMass is a big school and sometimes it is easy to compare yourself to others, but please do not. Remember that despite your insecurities, you belong here, you are capable of achieving great things. Strive to be the best version of yourself, and everything else will fall into place.

Tell us about the research you’ve been involved in or your honors thesis:
I was fortunate enough to work with the Self-Regulations, Emotions, and Early Development Laboratory here at UMass. As a Research Assistant, I coded facial expressions and gathered neural and physiological data in preschool children. As a William Lee SIP Fellow and Honors Research Grant Awardee, I was able to formulate and conduct a research project. My honors thesis aims to examine the effect of verbal and nonverbal behaviors on emotion regulation in early development.

What is your biggest takeaway from UMass?
Do not be afraid to be by yourself. Although UMass is a large school, I know that it is alright to study or eat in the dining halls alone. Being independent is part of the experience, try not to miss out on it.

What is next for you?
As I prepare my medical school application, I will be working as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Nephrology.