Being a Youth Consultant
YE4C’s first editorial board was in place from February 2020 through June 2020. The group was made up of 10 young people from around the country. They helped organize and improve content for the YE4C website. They also created content for YE4C and gave feedback to federal agencies. We invited each editorial board member to reflect on their time with the editorial board and to tell us more about themselves and their hopes for the future.
Today’s Inspiring Story follows Elizabeth Stout. She is 20 years old and from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Elizabeth is a sophomore at Albion College studying Biology and Music. She hopes to go into public health work after graduating.
What made you interested in working on the YE4C Editorial Board?
I was given information about this opportunity from one of my coworkers at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. My biggest goal is to help and support people who need it. This opportunity to work with other people my age and make a change sounded great. Also, working on a bigger mission that is public health driven is a good step on my way to getting a Master’s in Public Health.
What did you do on the YE4C Editorial Board?
After I started, I did a couple of different things. I reviewed and gave feedback on resources and their social media platforms. I was also able to share my ideas for new content. One of my favorite tasks happened back in February. I helped analyze resource descriptions and tailor the resource list to people in specific situations to make sure the information was most relevant to them. A great thing about YE4C is that we are all able to work alongside strong young people and adults to help others.
Tell us more about your time working in Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Sure! I serve as a youth consultant for the Family Center in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. I got the job through my friend’s mom. She was the head of a specific department in the Family Center focused on children’s human health. She knew that I had epilepsy and was interested in public health. So, she reached out to me. As a youth consultant, I give a voice to the children who are being affected through decisions made by the department. This is meant to ensure all the adults can see from a child's perspective. Most of my work is completing projects related to epilepsy. I especially focus on helping with content for young people as they transition to adulthood with special health considerations. Sometimes I go to conferences with them and give presentations and share documents we’ve made.
What other ways have you been able to use your experience with epilepsy to help others?
After I worked at the Family Center for a while, one of my coworkers nominated me to work for the American Association of Epilepsy Foundation as a liaison. I am now a liaison in their consulting group. A lot of what I do with them builds on what I do with the Michigan Family Center. I’m able to share my experience and ideas as someone who has the disease. A big thing I appreciate is using my disease in a beneficial way to help other people. Kind of like putting a positive spin on something that is not always easy.
What advice would you give to other young people interested in public health?
If you are interested in public health, there are so many ways to get involved with the state and state agencies. A large part of public health begins in the government. If there are conferences, you can apply to be a consultant for the conferences. In that role, you help with presentations, check-ins, and group meetings. There are also a lot of internships with public health out there.
Additionally, I would say embrace the challenges. Ideally, I wouldn’t have a disease that would prevent me from driving, but through it, I have found what I want to do for the rest of my life. Challenging experiences can help you in different ways.