Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers

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Duke migrated to an electronic-only system for theses between 2006 and 2010. As such, theses completed between 2006 and 2010 may not be part of this system, and those completed before 2006 are not hosted here except for a small number that have been digitized.


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  • ItemOpen Access
    Long-Time Behavior of Some ODEs with Partial Damping
    (2024-04-23) Huber, Owen
    This thesis examines some partially damped ODEs with a conservative bilinear term, a damping matrix term with a nontrivial kernel, and a deterministic forcing term. We prove that, when forcing is absent, the condition that the bilinear term has no invariant sets in the kernel of the damping term is sufficient to show convergence of all solutions to the origin. We then consider the case that invariant sets exist in the kernel of the damping term and include forcing to escape the invariant sets. We show that solutions diverge under certain symmetries and give a partial proof of boundedness with hyperbolic equilibria in the kernel of the damping term.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Towards a Characterization of the Complete Rotationally Symmetric Minimal Surfaces with Plateau-Like Singularities
    (2024-04) Goldstein, Benjamin
    The problem of finding and characterizing the surfaces in R3 which locally minimize area is known as Plateau's problem. Although the catenoid and the plane were proven in the 1700s to minimize area, there has been little further study of rotationally symmetric minimal surfaces. In this study, we investigate the complete rotationally symmetric solutions to Plateau's problem, revealing surprising depth due to singularities that may appear in a broad class of minimal surfaces. Our analysis is structured around the topology of the surface's generating graph, and we first consider surfaces of a simple topological type. For these surfaces, we prove new statements about complexity and shape, relating the number of singularities to the Hausdorff distance from a canonical example. We then consider more complicated structures, producing a novel surface with a handle (in particular, whose generating graph contains a 4-cycle). We finally provide direction for future study.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Perceiving Blood Sugar: Kaleidoscopic Re-framing of CGM-Driven Diabetic Datafication
    (2024-04-03) Sebastian-San Miguel, Sabrina
    The means to enact the oversight of blood sugar levels have evolved throughout the history of type 1 diabetes. Using (auto)ethnographic methods of interviews, participant observation, and arts-based research creation, this thesis interrogates what new phenomena-in-practice accompanies the rise of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology. The author argues that CGMs render glucose metabolism perceptible through the addition of new sensory modalities: visuality, audibility, and wearable materiality. In imparting these new perceptibilities, CGMs become more akin to medical visualization tools; dissolving the body-environment divide, CGMs project the metabolism into the environment through a variety of mediums. In turn, this more comprehensive association with the sensorium renders CGMs as more than a measuring technology. Presenting contributions across science and technology studies, disability studies, medical and visual anthropologies, this thesis explores the lived re-imaginations of the technological mediation of diabetic embodiments.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Voting Early and On Campus: How North Carolina Universities Collaborate with County Governments to Increase Student Voter Access and Turnout
    (2023-12) Thomas, Kathryn
    College-aged voters face magnified costs of voting and turnout in low numbers. North Carolina college students have voted early and on-campus at specific schools for over a decade. How have on-campus early voting locations impacted the voting behavior of college students in North Carolina between 2012 and 2020? To analyze this question through a multi-faceted lens, I employed an explanatory sequential mixed-methods approach that integrates qualitative and quantitative methods. First, I selected six North Carolina universities and analyzed post-election data from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement to evaluate the impact of early voting on voting rates. Second, I interviewed county election directors and university officials to understand the administrative decisions behind site placement. Finally, I surveyed college students about their beliefs and experiences with early voting. The findings illuminate a model of voter engagement that increases voter access and turnout in North Carolina. Early voting is associated with higher turnout rates. County election directors indicate that early voting sites on campus are an effective way to reach voters. University officials understand the value of on-campus early voting as an opportunity to support student voting rights. Students value the convenience and report high satisfaction with the voting method. These findings suggest that placing early voting sites on college campuses is a cost-effective method of expanding voting access. University employees, in partnership with county election officials, can use on-campus early voting to promote political participation and help young citizens overcome the costs of voting.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Navigating National Tragedy: A Comparative Analysis of Responses to Mass Shootings in Norway and the United States
    (2024-04-22) Biddle, Clementine
    The shooting at the Workers’ Youth League Summer Camp in Utøya, Norway on July 22nd, 2011, targeted teenagers, and lead to the deaths of 69 people. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14th, 2012, targeted children, killing 26 people. Gun violence, particularly extra-legal gun violence perpetrated by civilians, is a pervasive issue globally; however, the United States is an outlier in gun violence with repeated offenses particularly in educational environments. A mass shooting can be defined as one or more individuals killing or attempting to kill multiple people with a firearm in a populated area (Ray & Chmielewski, 2024). Norway has had three mass shootings resulting in death in recent history. There were more than 650 mass shootings in the United States in 2023 (Gun Violence Archive, 2024). What is the difference between the two nations? For my research, I explore the political and public responses of the nations by analyzing politicians' speeches and published opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines written by the public in both countries in relation to these instances of gun violence. I am interested in the historical, cultural, and political structures and institutions of the two countries that help to shape and form their responses to these national tragedies and how this in turn effects gun policy. In my analysis of Norwegian speeches and opinion pieces, I found themes of identity formation and community building as a nation, secular language, shock, and a strong correlation between political and public desires for the country. In my analysis of American speeches and opinion pieces, I found themes of passivity, division, polarization, and religious language. Understanding the differences in response and approach to issues of gun violence between Norway and the United States may begin to give context as to why the United States is plagued with repeated gun violence.
  • ItemOpen Access
    That Sounds About White: Parental Racial Socialization and White Youth Identity Development
    (2024-04-15) Culp, Mackenzie
    Though parental racial socialization in the United States has been investigated since the 1970s, the literature almost exclusively focuses on its execution within minority families. The study at hand addresses this gap and ascertains how parental racial socialization works in White families. It unravels this question qualitatively, via semi-structured interviews with twenty students at a private university in the Southeast. The intention behind approaching college students was to gain a better sense of the kinds of racial behaviors and attitudes that White children internalize. In addition, it was hoped that interviewing college students about their parental racial socialization would provide insight into the impact that their parents have on their offsprings’ racial identities into adulthood. The findings of this paper were noteworthy, as they shed light onto how members of the dominant racial group in the twenty-first century learn to conceive of themselves and, by extension, racial others. Consistent with prior work on this topic, the main finding was that the parents of those surveyed neglected to converse with their kids about race and, for the most part, attempted to raise them “color-blind.” However, as I show, parents still passed on ideas about race, but through implicit means. A novel insight that this study provides is that White children in the twenty-first century may socialize their own parents about race once they mature and develop their own political opinions.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Bringing Care to Patients: Evaluation and Implications of an Outreach Mobile Clinic Model in Rural North Carolina
    (2024-04-08) Haddad, Nicholas
    The goal of the DGHI and Hope Clinic partnership has evolved over time but has centered around understanding the services Hope Clinic offers to its patients, especially those with chronic conditions, and their access to care. Hope Clinic is a free and charitable clinic in Bayboro, NC that serves about 300 patients. Following previous studies that have highlighted the clinic’s current building constraints and patients’ transportation difficulties, an outreach care pilot was developed. This model rests on two pillars: “outreach locations” (six community sites where patients could go for clinic appointments) and community health workers. Using patient geospatial and clinical data, Duke students identified six community sites that would theoretically reduce the travel burden patients with chronic conditions currently face in making it to Bayboro. Second, a partnership with a now defunded community health worker program aimed to provide personalized check-ins for patients outside of clinic hours (e.g., calling to ensure that patients are taking their medications). The community health worker program lost its funding before this pilot began in its entirety; while specific data and implications from this portion of the program won’t be considered, the incorporation of community health workers will be considered in recommendations and when addressing current gaps in care that emerge from this analysis. Over the course of 2023, Hope Clinic has been holding quarterly clinics at five outreach locations. A joint pilot evaluation plan was developed at the forefront of this project. This study aims to evaluate this pilot from January 2023 through December 2023 by: analyzing qualitative and quantitative patient satisfaction data (survey and interview data from 2023), demographic and diagnosis data taken from the clinic’s health records (from 2023), clinic encounter and appointment adherence data (from 2022 and 2023), and interview data from other free and charitable clinics (collected November and December 2023); future implications of a program like this for similar clinics and recommendations for Hope Clinic’s existing program will be offered. Collected data includes patient encounter statistics (e.g., completed appointments, cancellations, and no-shows), pertinent demographic data (e.g., gender, age, race/ethnicity) pulled from Hope Clinic’s electronic health records system, conversations with patients and providers (e.g., satisfaction, travel time to locations, qualitative suggestions). This data paints a vivid picture of who is coming to outreach locations, their health status (e.g., vital signs, hypertension and/or diabetes diagnosis, frequency of appointments, prescription status), and how the program is impacting adherence to appointment times and patient maintenance of health conditions. Interviews with other free and charitable clinics are used to better understand their strategies addressing barriers to health care access for their most vulnerable clients with an eye towards identifying possible solutions for Hope Clinic. Overall, findings from Hope Clinic’s first year of piloting their outreach care model are overwhelmingly positive. With higher completion rates, fewer cancellations and no-shows, and shorter travel times to outreach sites than to the normal Bayboro location, staff have reduced barriers to access that patients have previously expressed in interviews. Talking to other free and charitable clinic leadership across the state has highlighted similar transportation and resource constraints that make it difficult for patients to receive care and has showcased strategies used to address those challenges. While implementation of this model has led to reductions in the number of completed patient appointments (down roughly 6% from 2022), the benefits of this model seem to outweigh this challenge, and recruiting another provider (given space exists at community sites) may increase capacity.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Beyond Polio in Pakistan: Understanding the Development and Consequences of Eradication Strategies
    (2024-04-18) Sheikh, Shanzeh
    This thesis seeks to understand how the strategies of polio eradication and the development of the healthcare environment in Pakistan have led to the continued presence of polio in the country, despite its elimination in nearly every other country besides neighboring Afghanistan. Often the literature, focused on the execution of programs, overlooks the program design that in many ways occurs outside of Pakistan. I use a critical historical analysis to identify root causes of international and national stakeholders’ eradication strategies and rationale, paying close attention to how Pakistan’s history has shaped its perspectives and possibilities. I review archival sources from the Pakistani government, physicians, and international organizations, as well as research papers and reports on polio eradication and health infrastructure. I also conducted nine interviews with Pakistani physicians, researchers, and public health workers. Colonial medical interests have shaped international health regulations and Pakistan’s health system such that they are largely focused on combatting single diseases rather than investing in basic healthcare. The Pakistani state has created gaps in healthcare delivery that military conflict in the region has exacerbated, and that physicians struggle to fill within the politicized health environment. The failure to address community demands for other health services leads to mistrust and vaccine refusals, but international health organizations continue to focus efforts on disease-targeted strategies due to concerns about cost-effectiveness and sunk investments. Efforts to eradicate a disease like polio would be better served by a focus on basic health services. International organizations must re-evaluate what programs they prioritize to control diseases, center investment in public and primary health care as opposed to selective and targeted interventions, and empower the voices of those in marginalized communities to develop programs that respond to their needs, rather than the needs of high-income countries.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Making Meaning through Music: How Older Adults’ Lifelong Experience with Music Creates Connections, Purpose, and Legacy
    (2024-04-29) Pawlak, Anika
    This project seeks to begin answering the question of how older adults perceive the way music has shaped their lives, experiences, and memories. Using an ethnographic approach, I interviewed nine current or previous residents of Croasdaile Village, a continuous care retirement community in Durham, North Carolina. Interviews were centered around themes of music across the lifespan, asking about origins of musicianship and music taste, experiences with music, and how these themes change during a lifetime. While initially, I wanted to gather first-person perspectives of how older adults view music's presence in their lives, being connected with many lifelong musicians quickly provided evidence that music is so much more than a soundtrack playing in the background. For my participants, music was, is, and will continue to be essential to who they are, the relationships they have, and the means by which they live their lives. The stories gathered in my interviews demonstrate the way interviewees organized their life narratives around music. This suggests that others might also do this. Through this means of storytelling, it became evident that for these folks, music provides purpose and dimension in life. Based on their narratives, it is clear my interlocutors believe that music is a lifelong experience that facilitates relationship building and meaning making in a way no other pursuit could. This interview project exposes and lifts up the importance of music as a mode of communication, connection and comfort across the lifespan.
  • ItemOpen Access
    L’aile brisée du papillon : le concept contemporain de métamorphose au prisme des mises en récit des neurotraumatisés
    (2024-04-24) Cellini, Brianna
    In Catherine Malabou’s The New Wounded : From Neurosis to Brain Damage (2007), the suffering that follows a senseless traumatic event (an accident) is theorized through a deconstructionist, neuroscientific lens. Centering her work on the lived experiences of brain lesions patients who are no longer recognizable to themselves or others, Malabou explores destructive neural plasticity as a driver for modern suffering: the indifference of the “moi” to its own annihilation. This project undertakes a translational analysis of Malabou’s theories to characterize identity metamorphosis among survivors of neurotraumatic events: embodied experiences where neural circuitry and the passage of time is ruptured during the event and the recovery process that follows. Using patient narratives and contemporary philosophy, as well as cellular and cognitive neuroscience, the following questions are undertaken: what are the physical and mental capacities that help us imagine and describe indescribable experiences? How does destructive plasticity drive identity metamorphosis following a neurotraumatic event? What is our responsibility for understanding this transformation from an interdisciplinary perspective?
  • ItemOpen Access
    Collective Care: Community-Based Practices in Reproductive Justice
    (2024-04-27) Francisco-Zelkine, Corali
    The mainstream reproductive rights movement tends to focus on abortion and contraceptive freedom. The movement has historically 1) been led by cisgender, White women, and 2) only addressed autonomy in reference to the “choice” to not have children. Reproductive justice (RJ), which has emerged in recent years, is both a framework for understanding inequality in reproductive rights, and a movement that fights to make visible the particular needs of women of color and queer folks. RJ operates largely through community-led work, which separates it from national campaigns and organizations that take a more top-down approach to their work. This thesis asks: how do community-based initiatives promote the fight for RJ? The ethnographic project draws from Black feminist and intersectionality theory, participant observation and interviews with various RJ organizations and activists, and digital content analysis of different organizations’ social media platforms to explore the relationship between community and the RJ movement. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which community-based organizations that ground their operational strategies in the RJ framework offer a space for folks from marginalized racial and gender identities to advocate for themselves. Furthermore, the thesis sheds light on the way that the inclusivity of the RJ framework makes it valuable in potentially expanding beyond sexual and reproductive rights to other social justice issues.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Africatown: Mapping Space and Making Frenchness in the Goutte d'Or
    (2024-04-10) Murphy, Zoé
    My research centers on the Goutte d’Or, a quartier of the 18th district of Paris, commonly flattened by media and academia as a “Little Africa.” Through multimedia methods of walking, journaling, and ArcGIS StoryMaps, I provide a sensory and data-informed analysis of the movement and dynamism of the quartier. I argue that the terminology “Little Africa” misrepresents the space as a restricted island of Africa in the French capital and use frameworks from Chinatown literature to deepen the lens of analysis. Researchers have reframed Chinatowns to consider a multiplicity of both Chinese and other identities in a space that is highly woven into its city. As such, I propose the adoption of the framework “Africatown” for the Goutte d’Or to reveal how the neighborhood is deeply woven into the fabric of Paris and France. By adopting the Africatown framework, I demonstrate the Goutte d’Or’s role and participation in the greater development of identity in France and make a commentary on the evolution of “Frenchness” as the country’s population continues to change.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Healers and Helpers: Colonial Power Imbalances in Medical Missions and Global Health
    (2024-04-10) Purnell, Catherine
    This thesis is about colonial power imbalances within global healthcare provision. Evangelical Christian medical missionaries and many experts in field of global health both consider themselves to be “helpers” to populations of people they understand to be in need of help. This reinforces the flow of high income countries sending sometimes unwanted “assistance” to low and middle income areas, similar to colonialism. The movement to decolonize global health has added tools to remove colonialism from care, but has not yet been fully successful. I add to the wealth of information about decolonizing global health provision by integrating medical mission care and global health into the same conversation, and asks if it is possible for medical missions to decolonize in a manner that the ‘decolonizing global health’ movement seeks to do. I use the example of Partners in Health and its liberation theology-based method of care as an example of decolonized care. On the other hand, it is not possible to offer decolonized care under the label of “medical missions” as the field is currently defined.
  • ItemOpen Access
    On the Betti Numbers of Compact Rank 2 Locally Symmetric Spaces
    (2024-04-23) Ong, Nathanael
    We obtain upper bounds for the second Betti numbers of compact rank 2 locally symmetric spaces, namely $\Gamma\backslash SL(3)/SO(3)$, $\Gamma\backslash Sp(4)/U(2)$, and $\Gamma\backslash G_{2(2)}/SO(4)$, where $\Gamma$ is a cocompact, torsion free lattice. We use representation theory and directly apply the techniques of Di Cerbo and Stern in \cite{dicerbo2019price}. In the case of $\Gamma\backslash Sp(4)/U(2)$, we also use unitary holonomy, the complex structure operator that arises from it and the (p,q) decomposition of exterior powers to obtain stronger bounds. In particular, the bounds we provide on the Betti numbers of $\Gamma\backslash Sp(4)/U(2)$ and $\Gamma\backslash G_{2(2)}/SO(4)$ are exponential bounds involving injectivity radius. However, the bound we obtained for $\Gamma\backslash SL(3)/SO(3)$ is a weaker polynomial one.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Living Life in the Face of Death: An Ethnographic Exploration of Healing, Temporality, and Connection in Suicide
    (2024) Sperber, Benjamin
    Suicidality is a visceral, frightening reality that many with mental illness face on a daily basis. Treated with contempt in society, much of the scholarship surrounding suicidality focuses on the family or the effectiveness of treatment options. This thesis represents an effort to hold space for those who suffer from suicidality. Through ethnographic research on reddit and through semi-structured interviews with those who have been involuntarily committed in the state of North Carolina, the author offers a new analysis of the contingencies of healing, time, and connection for those who fail in their aimed desire of death through suicide. Split into three chapters, the author first examines how western biomedicine and the telos of medicine (i.e., treating to cure) necessarily is complicated by mental illness, leaving those who experience suicidality to feel that they are incapable of healing. Moreover, the author undertakes an exploration of differing tropes within biomedicine in an attempt to shed light on how dominant notions of healing are confounded or complicated by suicidality. In Chapter Two, the author explores time; namely, how suicidality subverts productivity-centered, future-oriented understandings and experiences of time. To this end, the author poses a new temporal schema, suicidal temporality, which seeks to explain how those who fail at suicide attempts experience time, the accumulation of life stressors, administrative labor, and more. In the final chapter, the author explores two forms of relationships—those between patient and physician, as well as those between suicidal individuals—to demonstrate how differing contexts can afford or limit a suicidal person varying levels of connection, trust, and aid from their interlocutor. Offering no solutions to eradicate suicidality, the author instead hopes to allow readers to gain a greater understanding of the experiences, emotions, and sensorial experiences that accompany suicidality.
  • ItemOpen Access
    "We Just Had to Stan" - A Qualitative Analysis of Fan Communities on Twitter
    (2024-04-15) Kovarik, Victoria
    The field of fan studies has analyzed various aspects of fan communities—fandoms, in short—both pre- and post-Internet, yet have failed to provide adequate discourse on Generation Z’s envelopment into the world of digitized Stan Twitter communities. Stan Twitter or “stan”— colloquially referring to obsessive fans—is a unique online arena where stans form connections with not only themselves but, in many cases, also the fan object—the celebrity or influencer which the stan idolizes. This qualitative analysis aimed to elucidate the role of Stan Twitter communities in facilitating individual and collective queer identity formation. More specifically, using interviews of Troye Sivan Stan Twitter community members, I aimed to provide insight into how individuals within this community navigate how to create community, meaning, and connection. The findings of this research highlighted that intentional navigation to these online spaces, queer identity formation, parasocial relationships, community dynamics, and expanding the global concept of fandom are key tenets of the Troye Sivan Stan Twitter community. This qualitative analysis reflected that the Troye Sivan Stan Twitter community may be used as a lens to understand the importance of queer online communities, particularly for queer youth and young adults.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Characterizing sleep-wake cycles in dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) using daytime activity levels, sex, and temperament: a longitudinal comparison
    (2024-04-12) Sandberg, Emily
    Across many species, sleep patterns are associated with variables such as age, sex, daytime activity levels, and temperament. Yet, current research lacks an in-depth characterization of dog sleep patterns and how they vary according to these variables during the critical developmental period of young puppyhood. Such studies are crucial in order to establish dogs as a model organism for studies of sleep and for additional applications in the realms of dog welfare and training. In the present study, we characterized how often and for how long young dogs wake, as well as their barking patterns during sleep. We evaluated sleep behaviors for dogs aged 8-18 weeks and determined longitudinal patterns using a sample of Canine Companions service-dogs-in-training (N=21). Video recordings of dogs were analyzed using a novel coding scheme to determine duration and frequency of awake bouts and barking. Mixed-effects logistic regression models reveal that awake-bout length (minutes) and frequency did not vary significantly by weeks of age, daytime activity levels, or temperament. However, we did find significant sex differences in awake bout length (p<0.009). These results suggest distinct daytime and nighttime temperaments, as well as the importance of this developmental period for developing adultlike sleep patterns. Further study is required to examine sleep behaviors in puppies beyond 18-weeks to better understand how adultlike patterns emerge and the stability of the patterns observed in this study.
  • ItemOpen Access
    ShotSpotter in Durham, NC: Service or Burden? A Community Sentiment Evaluation
    (2023-12) Kelly, Pilar
    ShotSpotter is a gunshot detection technology that uses audio sensors to locate and notify local police departments of gunfire. In 2023, the Durham Police Department (DPD) conducted a year-long pilot of ShotSpotter. Conversations with 30 residents of ShotSpotter’s three-square mile pilot area revealed nuanced opinions on the role of police officers, both generally and within their role as responders to ShotSpotter alerts. In the context of ShotSpotter specifically, conversations surrounded the ethics of technology and corporate actors in policing, as well as the lack of community engagement in the decision to pilot. Less frequently did these conversations reveal any observed impact on gun crime or police activity after ShotSpotter was implemented. Not one participant believed that ShotSpotter could help reduce gun crime. However, the participants who did report seeing changes in policing since ShotSpotter described those changes in a positive light. Opposition to ShotSpotter was rooted primarily in preconceived mistrust rather than direct experiences. This mistrust was directed toward City Council, ShotSpotter as a corporation, policing as an institution, and concerns about surveillance and storing personal sensitive information. City Council should consider the experiences and perceptions of the citizens most affected by gun violence when deciding how to proceed with ShotSpotter. Meaningful engagement and representation of these community voices is critical in efforts to promote institutional trust, community-police relations, and reductions in violent crime.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Mind the Gap: A Comparative Analysis of Adolescent Mental Health, Social Determinants of Health, and Medicaid Policy in North Carolina
    (2023-12-11) Rory, Smith
    This study examines the relationship between adolescent mental health care, social determinants of health, and the development of Medicaid across two North Carolina counties. Specifically, this thesis focuses on Durham County, a relatively urban area with several unincorporated suburbs, and Transylvania County, a rural community of approximately 30,000 inhabitants. Much research has been conducted on the relationship between social determinants of health, and access to and quality of adolescent mental health care. However, the multi-dimensional relationship between all three variables, as well as the influence of Medicaid policy and service innovations, remains unsettled. Through qualitative interviews and inductive analysis, this thesis investigates the differences between how adolescent mental health care is provided in each community. Additionally, it explores the extent to which adolescent mental health services address social determinants of health, and the role of Medicaid policy in the perceived effectiveness of those initiatives. Qualitative analysis of 15 interviews with healthcare providers, community leaders, and Medicaid care managers suggests that the mechanisms by which adolescent mental health and social determinants of health are addressed differ between the two counties, with clinical and nonprofit efforts emphasized in Durham and Transylvania Counties respectively. Yet in both communities, the efforts perceived as most successful rely on collaboration and community organization across various stakeholder groups. Across all interviews, challenges of healthcare access, fragmentation, and discontinuity of care emerged, highlighting a discrepancy between how behavioral health and SDOH innovations are proposed and how they truly affect North Carolinian adolescents.