Who We Are

Hikari Shumsky

Hikari Shumsky is a co-editor of Young Minds for Mental Health. She is a junior at Columbia University studying Human Rights with specialization in East Asian Studies and concentrating in Ethnicity and Race Studies. Hikari is interested in understanding mental health through a human rights and advocacy perspective, especially focusing on under-represented communities in current mental health discourse. More specifically, she is interested in issues of collective trauma and historical memory in post-disaster societies. She is currently doing research with the WHO-Columbia Global Mental Health Program, and is also involved in migrant rights organizations on campus and in NYC. Hikari hopes to pursue public interest law in the future, and is excited to further explore the intersections of advocacy, law, and mental health.

Maya Jotwani

Maya Jotwani is a co-editor of Young Minds for Mental Health. She is a senior at Pomona College studying Neuroscience, on the pre-health track. Maya is interested in understanding mental health through a neurological and global health lens. She is also passionate about raising awareness of mental health and increasing popular discourse to reduce stigma. She has done research at the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia University, and is a leader of her school’s public health club, which aims to increase public health education and advocacy. In the future, Maya hopes to pursue medicine and continue to be involved in the global mental health space.

Sara Wetzler

Sara Wetzler is the co-founder of Young Minds for Mental Health. She is a junior at Harvard university studying History and Science with a focus in Mind, Brain, and Behavior and a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. Sara is passionate about raising awareness about mental health and works hard to reduce the stigma. She has done research with the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia University as well as at the Pan American Health Organization. She is involved in global health clubs at school that focus on education, advocacy, and promoting awareness. In the future, Sara will attend the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai and continue to get involved in mental health advocacy.

Julia Pike-Forster

Julia is the co-founder of Young Minds for Mental Health. She is a junior at Johns Hopkins University studying Psychology and Social Policy. Julia has always been interested in Mental Health and Illness advocacy, and hopes that this coalition will encourage people to learn and understand how important understanding mental health and mental illness truly is. Julia has participated in research at the Poverty and Inequality Research Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, studying families, poverty, and public policy in Baltimore City. She has also interned with the consulting department at RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network). Julia is also an active member of the Johns Hopkins Law Review. In the future, Julia hopes to become a lawyer in order to combine her interests in mental health with the fields of law and policy.

Bita Tristani-Firouzi

Bita Tristani-Firouzi is a senior at Pomona College majoring in Gender & Women’s Studies looking to go to medical school. She is the president of the 5 Claremont Colleges Mental Health Alliance and also works as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line. Bita is passionate about the intersection of mental health and social justice and works to raise awareness about how social issues can impact overall well-being. She also is interested in the field of Feminist Science and Technology Studies and has written her undergraduate thesis on queer theory’s place in organic chemistry. Bita has been involved in several research projects investigating barriers to healthcare for transgender and gender diverse patients at both the University of Utah and the University of California San Francisco. In her free time, Bita can be found making animations, hiking, or cooking.

Margot Chisholm

Margot Chisholm is a senior at Middlebury college. She enjoys science, art, and writing. She will (hopefully) be graduating with a degree in biochemistry this spring. Following college, Margot plans to pursue a career in mental health and counseling and if you have any suggestions as to how she can accomplish this with a hard science background she asks you please inform her, as she is currently at a bit of a loss in this regard. In her spare time she bakes bread, hangs out with her dog, streams tv shows, and explores the medium of digital drawing.

Alexis Aberman

Alexis Aberman is a junior at Cornell University majoring in Human Development and minoring in English. Working with and helping others has always been something Alexis was passionate about, which led her to study Human Development and become involved in various volunteer organizations. Currently, she serves as a mentor for elementary aged students in the Ithaca area living in mobile homes. Alexis also has a strong interest in research, and she is currently working on her honors thesis in the Cornell Child Witness and Cognition Lab. Given all these interests, Alexis hopes to go to graduate school for clinical psychology. Alexis loves to cook and bake in her free time, and she also enjoys painting. She can’t wait to continue to pursue her love of writing while advocating for mental health initiatives.

Ananya Saluja

Ananya Saluja is a junior at Pomona College majoring in Psychological Science and Politics. She works in the Mental Health and Individual Differences (MIND) Lab at Pomona, and is interested in understanding the construct of stigma, and how it can be effectively dismantled. She is particularly interested in how culture and mental health intersect, especially when minority ethnicities are often pigeonholed by stereotypes. Post graduation from Pomona, she hopes to pursue either law or clinical psychology, and is interested in alleviating the ongoing mental health crisis in her home country of India, and specifically in Kashmir, where generations of minority Muslims have experienced trauma as a result of conflict. In her spare time, Ananya can be found dancing to Bollywood songs in empty rooms and swooning over pictures of corgis.

Teresa Gao

Teresa Gao is an undergraduate student studying Computer Science and Engineering as well as Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. Through her writing for YMFMH, she hopes to support and validate those who are currently experiencing mental health crises. Teresa hosts the biweekly radio show Psycholochat on WMBR, and she has previously served as Head Supporter for the MIT chapter of Lean 0n Me.

Christie Jones

Christie Jones is a second-year pre-medical student at Emory University, majoring in Biology and Economics. She has volunteered with human trafficking nonprofit organizations since 2015, and this spurred her continued interest in mental healthcare and de-stigmatization of mental illness. Christie hopes to attend medical school after earning her undergraduate degree and continue contributing to the growing awareness and treatment of mental health in the medical community.

Lindey Kneib

Lindey Kneib is currently a junior at Harvard University studying English with a secondary in Global Health/Health Policy. She is a Softball varsity athlete at the university as well as the co-director of the special olympics team there. As an athlete she has consistently heard the phrase “suck it up,” and she is now passionate about erasing that phrase throughout the realms of Global Health. In the future, Lindey plans on attending graduate school for global health in hopes of making an impact to reduce problems such as social suffering on the global scale.

Karolina Sadowska

Karolina is currently a junior at Columbia University, studying Neuroscience and Behavior. She is a research assistant in the Department of Molecular Therapeutics at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and this year she will be serving as a student ambassador for the Global Mental Health Program at Columbia University. Determined to destigmatize mental health and create support communities for young people struggling with mental illness, she is involved in Reflect, Active Minds and the Columbia University Mental Health Task Force which focuses on concrete policy initiatives to change the mental health scene on campus. In the future, Karolina wants to continue her education in the medical school and pursue a career in clinical psychiatry while staying involved in public mental health advocacy

Stuti Bagri

Stuti is a junior at Skidmore College from Mumbai, India. She is currently pursuing a major in psychology, a discipline she’s been hooked to since her first high school class on the subject. An Indian classical dancer, she originally hoped to meld together her love for dance and psychology by becoming a licensed dance therapist. Many classes, research projects, summer internships, and an academic conference later, she decided to switch gears and focus on clinical psychology instead. She worked on a research project on cross-cultural mental health stigma, presented the findings at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology 2019 Conference and interned at Ummeed, a child development center in her hometown. She works as an academic tutor for Psychology on campus as she firmly believes that only when you’re able to teach effectively is when you’ve learned optimally. 

Anna McDonough

Anna is a sophomore at Emory University, studying neuroscience and behavioral biology. She became interested in mental health advocacy after realizing how little conversation there is about mental illness despite its huge prevalence. Through working with the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide in her New Jersey hometown and collaborating with the Emory chapter of Active Minds to bring about meaningful conversations and destigmatize mental illness, she has developed a sincere passion for mental health awareness and hopes to have a tangible impact on how mental health is perceived on the global level. In addition to her work with these organizations, she partakes in molecular genetics research and enjoys cooking, weightlifting, and learning new things.