Kaitlyn Meyr is a second year student at the University of Kentucky and serves as President of the University’s newly-approved student organization, Tobacco-Free Take Action Health Advocates, whose mission is to engage students in efforts to improve access to treatment, strengthen tobacco policies, and mobilize a generation of advocates who strive to make a difference in their community. As President of the organization, Katie has the opportunity to bring together college students to increase tobacco use awareness and address the inequality of health issues faced by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Kentucky has one of the highest rates of tobacco use across the nation, and it will take an empowered young adult generation to evoke long-term social change. Katie is poised to take this role and recognizes the value of engaging others in confronting this challenge.
From an early age, I found gratification in educating and helping individuals lead healthy lives, both physically and mentally. My involvement in high school organizations focusing on mental health awareness, substance-free lifestyles, and leadership led me to develop a perspective of compassion and empathy towards individuals facing challenges. Through my continued education and involvement, I learned about the interconnected nature of substance abuse, mental illness, and societal factors such as age, race, socioeconomic status, and education that impact addiction. Driven by my desire to help others, I work with organizations on campus that promote awareness and enforcement of the tobacco-free policy. I collaborate with campus stakeholders, students, and community members to organize events and educational opportunities, providing information concerning the adverse health effects of nicotine. As a result, I help increase awareness and create a platform for students to discuss issues of public health concern within our community.