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Yale Psychiatry residents renew mentoring partnership with Common Ground High School

December 19, 2017

A life lesson here. A laugh there. And plenty of advice and companionship in between.

For the second year, Yale Department of Psychiatry trainees are participating in a mentorship program with students at Common Ground High School in New Haven.

Nearly two dozen psychiatry residents, trainees from other departments at Yale School of Medicine, and Yale medical school students have been paired with high school mentees, with another 20 students still waiting for a mentor to become available.

“We aim to have a meaningful impact on the lives of at-risk students of our New Haven community through building relationships and serving as role models as diverse individuals in professional careers,” said Jessica Isom, a third-year psychiatry resident and program organizer.

Isom said she wants to recruit more volunteers to become mentors. Residents across the medical school are welcome to help, and can learn more about the program by emailing Isom at

Common Ground High School is the nation’s longest-running environmental charter school. Its mission is to cultivate habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practices within a diverse community of children, young people, adults, and families.

Yale Psychiatry’s connection to Common Ground was established about six years ago when then-resident Ayana Jordan, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, organized an internship for several high schoolers.

The students met at a local restaurant, where they learned about food, nutrition, and cooking. That spawned a mentorship program that was revived last year by Isom and fellow residents Amanda Sun and Andrea Diaz Stransky.

The 2017-18 kickoff was held at Escape New Haven, an indoor adventure space on Whitney Avenue where teams solve a series of puzzles to “escape” a locked room. A group lunch followed.

“These events allowed for pairs to meet for the first time and begin to establish and characterize their relationship,” Isom said. “Our mentors and mentees are a diverse group with representation from all of the under-represented minority backgrounds.”

Mentors representing Yale Psychiatry include residents Hana Ali, Justin Ayankola, Frances Adachi, Lauren Schmidt, Nikhil Gupta, Erica Robinson, and Myra Mathis. Sabah Rid from the Yale Department of Anesthesia and medical students Jeremiah Cross and Grant Higerd are also participating.

Isom and Sun comprise the leadership team, with faculty support from Jordan. Funding has been provided by the Yale Minority House-staff Organization, of which several residents are members.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on December 19, 2017