Alumni Award Winner Kartik Tyagi on Advocating for Healthcare and Health Sciences Education
You know — some of my friends often tell me that one of the most universal aspects of our society is money. And although money does make the world go round, I’d argue that the most universal thing is health — healthcare — it’s about more than what happens at hospitals and doctor’s offices — it’s about public safety — wellness — mental health — basic needs — and social support.
My name is Kartik Tyagi. I study public health — health policy and management — at UNC Chapel Hill. And to me, the need for a more holistic outlook to both individual and community health has always driven my passion for healthcare — enabling me to realize that health is about a whole lot more than what we do for folks when they become ill. Going through a pandemic, we can all agree that both health and healthcare cannot be taken for granted — and neither can the future of this essential industry.
In my own experience as Assistant Coordinator for Harvard Medical School’s Global COVID-19 Response Technical Support Group, I’ve been able to be a part of a team that uses data to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in countries like Malawi, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and more. It has been fulfilling to gain insights and find answers to the questions that global communities face, including what the burden of the pandemic has really been — how COVID-19 has directly affected health outcomes, especially in high-risk groups, as well as understanding how the pandemic has affected care for different populations.
I wouldn’t have been able to take part in such an insightful and eye-opening opportunity without the skills I developed through the NAF Academy of Health Sciences at Enloe High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. Through my experiences, I was able to jumpstart my academic interests, explore my passion for health, and make life-long connections through other organizations, namely, HOSA-Future Health Professionals, an international career and technical student organization.
Building my network has provided me with some of the most valuable knowledge, skills, experiences, and sense of community that I could ever ask for. I am so very grateful to mentors like Ms. Debbie Massengill and Mrs. Benicia Ledford, who supported me in pursuing my aspirations starting my first day as a high school student; Dr. Jim Koeninger, Mrs. Karen Koeninger, Laura Sheppard, and Heath Treadway, who have been some of my biggest cheerleaders along my health sciences journey; and finally my mom, dad and little brother, whose support hasn’t wavered a single bit throughout the years.
All of these mentors have shaped who I am today, each in their own unique way — and have shown me that it is important to give back to the communities that have meant so much to me because I’ve realized that good leaders lead, but great leaders serve. As a NAF Alumni Policy Ambassador, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to support high school students and ignite their own passions. As a certified pharmacy technician, I have had the privilege of helping support the vaccine roll out in my local community. But most of all, as a NAF alumnus, I will continue to do everything I can to advocate for healthcare and health science education to secure a future of healthcare that is committed to the wellness and prosperity of all people in all communities – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
In closing, I want to thank NAF again for this amazing honor — for this Alumni Award — and to the entire NAF community for continuously inspiring the next generation of leaders to be future ready.