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or as long as I can remember, I’ve been inspired by music. However, I would have never imagined that I could inspire others with it. While music has always been my confidant, I never needed it more than after my sophomore year of college when I started dealing with an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder that is characterized by a constant, overwhelming feeling of worry and fear. Anxiety is a normal human emotion; however an anxiety disorder is a serious illness that has the potential to cause much distress in everyday life. Dealing with my disorder, my family and I decided that taking a semester off from school would be in my best interest. When I was on my leave of absence, I utilized traditional means of treatment such as therapy, exercise, and rest. However, at the same time listening to, and making music played a big part in my recovery as well. Through recording my thoughts and frustrations in the form of poetry, I was inspired to create an album entitled “Carnegie Café.” I hoped that the album would encourage my peers who might be going through similar situations and enlighten society on college experiences. I’m not a health care professional; however, I believed that others could learn from what I went through.

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Out of the most challenging time of my life, I found great opportunity. Fueled by my disorder, I began using my music as a tool to promote mental health awareness on my campus. Inspiring others through their own hardships became my motivation as I found purpose in my passion for music and rejuvenated my spirit. In the fall of 2013, I released “Carnegie Café” to my campus community and began seeing the importance of such a project. It was received very well- so much so that the project grew into a mental health awareness initiative that proved to be very beneficial to my campus community. In addition to the album, I started facilitating discussions within Carnegie Mellon freshman dorms about mental health and wellness, sharing my experiences and educating others about how I overcame my mental health disorder. Life has a strange way of giving us purpose. Whether through tribulation or opportunity, there is always something to learn from it. My story would have been radically different if I would have kept my unfortunate experience to myself. Through giving back to my community I wasn’t just able to raise mental health awareness, but I was able to heal myself and inspire others who were feeling down. In a world where money and material things are glorified, there is nothing more fulfilling than giving back.

Kai Roberts is a Promise Scholar and Marketing major at Carnegie Mellon University.

GET INVOLVED: Learn more about Kai, his music and mental awareness issues:

IdeaPod Fall 2014  
IdeaPod Fall 2014