Attending a conference can be a transformative experience for graduate students. That is the case for Yasmin Cole-Lewis, on many levels. While a conference she attended last year provided great research and networking opportunities, it was a casual conversation with someone that stuck with her. She laughs when she recalls, “Someone asked me what my hobbies were and I sort of panicked - I didn’t have any hobbies. I came back on a quest to find a hobby.” Recent attempts have been snowboarding and climbing - both of which she loved. She adds, “I got a DSLR camera for my birthday and I hope to learn how to use it. I’d like to take a class in photography next.”

Yasmin was born and raised in an Atlanta suburb to parents from Sierra Leone. She majored in Cultural Anthropology at nearby Emory University. She shifted gears a few times after college, finding her way to U-M over the course of a few years: “After undergrad, I always knew I wanted to do something where I was working with and helping people but I didn’t want to be a medical doctor. I found public health and completed a Master’s of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education at UNC- Chapel Hill.”

“My faculty advisor there and still current mentor, Dr. Wizdom Powell-Hammond, received her M.P.H. and Ph.D. from Michigan. I worked with her in her research lab, focusing on African American men’s health issues. I loved what I was learning but wanted something a little different. I was always interested in education and health, and wanted to explore the education piece as well. Working with Wizdom was a way to think about psychology and think about public health in different ways, how they fit together. Wizdom encouraged me to explore that and reached out to her networks on my behalf. I learned a lot through her.”

After a great year working at a healthcare technology company in Baltimore, Yasmin settled on the Combined Program in Education and Psychology (CPEP) Program at U-M. While she says she loved the program and people there, she spent the first year trying to figure out where she was going and revisiting her initial experiences and goals. She says, “I started to feel like I needed more experiences working with individuals and with clinical training, and to continue thinking about health outcomes, so I switched programs to Clinical Psychology.”


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