BioQuick News Editor & Publisher Mike O’Neill recently had the opportunity to interview Pooja Mehta (photo), a young Duke graduate, who has recently moved to Madison, Wisconsin and who has just launched, on May 1st, an innovative web-based project intended to de-stigmatize mental illness, by giving those with mental illness a forum through which they can tell their own personal stories. Pooja hopes that when people see the compelling profiles of those with mental illness who are participating in her Project I Define Me, they will have a more positive and accurate perception of what those with mental illness are really like. The hoped-for result is a de-stigmatization of mental illness and a more realistic and compassionate understanding of who people with mental illness really are. BioQuick News: How old are you, Pooja? Pooja Mehta: 22. BQN: Can you describe some of your background? (where you went to school, what you studied, where you work now, what does your work involve?) PM: I have lived in North Carolina for most of my life, 20 years, and absolutely love it. I had the privilege of going to Duke for undergrad, where I earned my BS in Public Health and Biology. I now work as a Project Manager at Epic, where I help hospitals implement software which allows them to provide the best care for their patients. BQN: What do your parents do? When did they come to the United States? Where in India are they from? PM: Both my parents work in the pharmaceutical industry, my mom as a researcher and my dad as a manufacturer. They came to the US in 1991, from Mumbai. BQN: Do you have brothers and sisters? Where do you fit in with your siblings in age? Do any of your siblings have issues with mental illness? Is there any mental illness in your parents and/or in other relatives you know of?
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