Tyler West, Public Health

West finds future in public health through mentorship

Tyler West (Photo by Kristen Martin)

Tyler West (Photo by Kristen Martin)

An email started East Carolina University public health major Tyler West’s journey to completing his signature honors project.

Through emails from the health education and promotion department and the Honors College, West learned of a data collection job with Dr. Joseph Lee, the associate dean for research in the College of Health and Human Performance. After a year, West wanted to expand his role further and step into the research side by interviewing data collectors under age 21 around New Jersey, New York and North Carolina who had tried purchasing tobacco products.

“Even before working with Dr. Lee as a data collector, I had no idea what my future in public health was going to look like,” West said. “I had a passion for serving people in the sphere of health, but I didn’t know how I was going to execute that. Thanks to the work we’ve been able to do together, I’ve more or less gotten a feel of what I want my future to look like.”

West could have waited to complete his signature honors project by combining it was his public health senior internship. However, he wanted to get ahead of the curve and connect with as many opportunities as possible. This dedication has opened doors that West didn’t even think about.

“Just this past month, we published my paper that’s going into a journal dedicated to nicotine tobacco studies,” he said. “To be published as an undergraduate student is incredible and I’m super grateful.”

Not only has Lee connected West with other health education and promotion faculty, he has also empowered him to feel confident in his research decisions.

“He did a good job of always saying you’re allowed to disagree with me whenever I give you advice,” West said. “He was there every step along the way; however, it was more he wanted to be there to support me rather than do it with me or for me.”