LASR Highlight

Leadership, Arts, Service and Research. Much like a laser (which actually stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation), our LASR project asks juniors and seniors to focus in on a topic of their choosing related to either Leadership, Arts, Service or Research and write a research paper. Start with a question and see where it leads. Twice a year students present their LASR projects to the White Mountain community at our LASR Symposium. A few students presented earlier in the semester. Some students also presented throughout the semester.

Senior Hannah Selhorst self-published a resource book detailing eight common mental illnesses. Her presentation featured her book and focused on awareness and other preventive measures to curtail the effects of these illnesses on adolescents. We had the chance to sit down with Hannah to discuss her LASR project. Below she talks a bit about the idea and the process of her LASR.

Could you speak a little bit about your LASR project? Where did the idea come from?

For my LASR project, I wrote a book about eight common mental illnesses and disorders. I discussed what they are, possible treatments, and the stereotypes and realities surrounding each. I wanted there to be a resource for students that they could pick up to better understand mental illness. The language in the book is meant to be much more accessible than the language one might find about mental illness online.

I started the second semester of my junior year with research, lots and lots of research. I spent the whole semester researching the illnesses and disorders I had chosen, as well as laying out what I wanted the book to be. Then, the first semester of my senior year, I started writing the chapters. Each week I would meet with my Independent Study advisor, Caroline. She and I would look over the chapters and edit them. Finally, the second semester was spent making guides, filling in the conclusion, introduction, dedication, table of contents, collecting the artworks and testimonies, formatting, a lot more editing, creating the cover, and finally printing and shipping!

The idea for this was actually something I had thought of in middle school. At the time, a few of my friends and I were dealing with a lot of issues around mental illness. We faced a lot of ridicule from other girls at my school who had ideas of mental illness that were very far off from reality. Some of my friends began to believe things about themselves that weren’t true because it was the common belief. This drove me to do a lot of research on mental illness and psychology. I also did a lot of research on the brain, it’s physical form and the functions it performs. I wanted to get all of the information I had down, but I didn’t have a means to do so until I came to WMS and was presented with the LASR project.

Could you speak a bit about your book? Where did this idea come from?

The idea stemmed from the realization that stereotypes on mental illnesses and disorders are extremely harmful to those who have been diagnosed, and to those who know people who have been diagnosed. I noticed that people would think certain things about others or themselves based off of a diagnosis. I also saw a lot of people struggle with having nowhere they felt they could look to find out about mental illness. I wanted this book to be something that people could look at when they aren’t comfortable going to a parent, a friend or a therapist. I also wanted something that would be more easily understood than what comes up when you do a google search.

View and read Hannah’s book here!

Thoughts/any reflections you have on your LASR now that it’s done?

This book turned out to be everything that I wanted it to be and more. When I received the printed copies of the book, I was overjoyed. So much work went into this project from so many people: the artists, the testimony writers, Caroline, and myself. I wanted my LASR project to be something that could last, and not just a cluster of papers at the end of the semester. I’ve already seen so much interest in my book for the purpose of both education and personal self help. The end product of my LASR project is something I’m so proud of, and I’m so happy that I’ve created something that can help other people.

Leave a Reply