2019 Outstanding and Civic Engagement Award Winner
Women with postpartum depression and other related mood disorders often don't get the treatment they need. Often times, the mere stigma surrounding perinatal mental health is enough to deter women from seeking the help that they need. Tara's passion for mental health advocacy and women's reproductive health have inspired her to volunteer with the CONNECTED clinic for the past 2 years and to serve as the clinic's president for the past year. Tara volunteers alongside doctors and nurses of the UC Davis Medical Center's Ob/Gyn Department and a team of other student volunteers to further their mission of providing medication management and group therapy to women suffering from perinatal psychiatric and personality disorders.
Through understanding the individual stories of CONNECTED Clinic patients, Tara has also gained insight into the broader, systemic issues and stigma surrounding mental health that need to be addressed. This motivated her to create an organization on campus called Postpartum Anxiety N' Depression Advocates at UC Davis (PANDA). As the president and co-founder of PANDA, Tara has helped build the student organization from the ground up. She has grown membership from the original 8 to 40 undergraduate students all dedicating to destigmatizing perinatal mental health. Moreover, she has organized a number of outreach events in association with other student and community groups, including the St. John's Women's Shelter, Mental Health Coalition, and BPSHI at UC Davis, to help spread awareness and advocate for this population that goes largely unheard.
When she is not volunteering with CONNECTED Clinic and PANDA, Tara conducts research in the Engebrecht Lab on campus. Currently, she is working on a project exploring the effects of BRC-1 (the C. elegans ortholog to the human breast cancer susceptibility gene) on crossover regulation under instances of meiotic dysfunction in spermatogenesis and oogenesis (sperm and egg development). Tara recently obtained independent funding for her project through the Provost Undergraduate Fellowship Award. She also presented her preliminary findings at the 2019 UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference. Tara hopes that being able to characterize the specific role of the BRC-1 complex on crossover formation and regulation can put the research community one step closer to uncovering the specific role of the complex in meiosis, potentially opening new doors for ovarian and breast cancer treatments.
Tara is double majoring in NPB and Spanish and has been an active member of the University Honors Program and a Regents Scholar for the past three years. She also works at the UC Davis Academic Assistance and Tutoring Center as a chemistry and organic chemistry tutor. In her free time, Tara enjoys swimming, baking, and cycling at the ARC with friends. Tara plans to continue community service well past her undergraduate career as well. Looking towards the future, she hopes to pursue medicine and to continue working with underserved populations because there is nothing that she finds more rewarding than giving back to her community.