When Rachael Flatt was 4 years old, she went to the mall with her dad to get a birthday present for her grandfather.
But instead of leaving with a gift, the two returned home with tickets for figuring skating lessons.
Within 13 years, Flatt became one of the world’s best figure skaters — winning the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships and competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Having since walked away from professional skating, Flatt is now beginning a new journey as a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Flatt plans to earn her master’s and Ph.D. in clinical psychology, studying under Cynthia Bulik. She is hoping to develop digital mental health tools to help current and retired athletes who are dealing with eating disorders and mental health as a whole.
“I really feel strongly about changing the culture with regards to athletes and eating disorders because it is such a huge problem in figure skating and aesthetically-based sports in general,” Flatt said.