Truth Initiative Youth Activism Fellow

Written by: Brice Bowrey, Junior EC Scholar

I had the pleasure of travelling to Nashville, Tennessee on Nov. 15, 2018 as a Truth Initiative Youth Activism Fellow. This trip was the apotheosis of the work myself and several other Fellows completed for the last six months. During that time, we laid the groundwork for a large tobacco awareness campaign in the city of Nashville. This campaign was to be conducted among five high schools in the city and designed to further the Truth Initiative’s goal of, “inspiring tobacco-free lives and building a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco.”

While this is a laudable goal, I quickly realized it is much easier said than done. The process of recruiting high schools and high school students to be part of the campaign was arduous and riddled with rejection. Creating campaign activities involved the writing, rewriting and re-rewriting of our various ideas, only to realize that some legal or regulatory restriction made the concept completely unworkable. Adequately communicating and coordinating with my teammates and other branches of the Truth Initiative was, at times, nearly impossible. Nonetheless, my team and I persevered.

Upon arriving in Nashville I was fully equipped with determination and the communication, technical and leadership skills I had acquired while preparing for the campaign. After catching up with my teammates, we began the final preparations for the “Weekend Retreat” we would conduct. This Retreat was essentially a training day for the high school students that agreed to implement the campaign in their schools. We were to teach them about tobacco control issues, such as menthol and big tobacco’s predatory advertising practices, as well as equip them with the skills necessary to enact the campaign activities we planned. We also intended to conduct planning sessions with each school to ensure that the students left the Retreat with a basic implementation strategy they could flesh out independently.

As someone who was never particularly extroverted or comfortable with younger people, I began to question my ability to pull this event off. Would I be able to adequately convey information to the students? Would I horrendously botch something in my presentations? Would we be able to adapt the campaign activities to fit the individual needs of each high school? Alas, these concerns were for naught. The students were strikingly mature and intelligent. They were accepting of authority, yet unafraid to express their views and opinions. Despite my original expectations, I found working with these students to be far easier than working with some adults. Unlike many adults, the students possessed a certain creativity and willingness to consider unorthodox solutions. They were willing to learn and adapt. Due to the quality of the students, the Weekend Retreat ran exceptionally smoothly and the breakout planning sessions were highly productive. Perhaps most importantly, the students reported that they enjoyed the day and felt prepared to put their plans into action.

Since the completion of the Weekend Retreat, my team and I have served as advisors to the students involved in the campaign implementation. Their efforts are largely self-sufficient, but we are available to answer any questions and serve as a liaison between the students and the Truth Initiative. Although this was not my first experience in the world of tobacco control, I learned some important lessons. Most notably, my confidence in my ability to work with young adults dramatically increased. I also learned a lot about what it takes to be part of a large, national organization where one must regularly work with people that may be on the other side of the country. I have no doubt these are lessons I will not soon forget. While I don’t intend to pursue this line of work as a career, I have no doubt that being a Truth Initiative Youth Activism Fellow has prepared me well for my next foray into the world of tobacco control and public health advocacy.

Greenville Community Shelter Clinic

Volunteers (most likely pre-med students) needed at the Greenville Community Shelter Clinic, organized by Brody student and EC Scholar alum Sydney Hendricks.

Orientation is required to learn how to take patient vitals. The link to sign up for that is found at: 

The link to sign up can be found at:

The Magic of Mursion

Junior EC Scholar Meghan Lower experiences a job interview simulation i the Mursion Lab.

Junior EC Scholar Meghan Lower experiences a job interview simulation i the Mursion Lab.

Junior EC Scholar Meghan Lower reflects on her experiences using the Murion Lab at the ECU College of Education.
Lower reacts to the avatar's comment during her mock job interview in the Mursion Lab.

Lower reacts to the avatar’s comment during her mock job interview in the Mursion Lab.

My first experience with Mursion was through a simulated job interview. Even though I used the word simulated, I certainly did not feel as if it was a simulation. The interview was very authentic, as I received personalized feedback in real time as if were a real interview. The avatar that interviewed me had appropriate gestures and body language that reflected what it was saying. Honestly, the authenticity of the technology caught me off guard a little at first. I did not predict the capabilities of Mursion would be as extensive as they were. It is truly like you are conversing with another human in an interview setting — an experience many undergraduates do not have before stepping into a real interview.

Another attraction of Mursion is its applications for education majors. Probably the most popular simulation of Mursion involves a classroom of five students. Each student in the class has their own story and personality — ones that accurately represent the types of students a teacher would interact with on a daily basis. A user can learn how to include the more introverted students into class discussions or how to control the more eager students from speaking out of turn. Having the opportunity to practice lessons and classroom management techniques before even stepping into a classroom is unprecedented. The more practice a teacher has before entering the classroom, the more comfortable and prepared they will be when they teach their students.

Mursion also goes beyond the classroom simulation to prepare future educators for other aspects of their job, such as engaging in a parent-teacher conference. It is these additional duties of a teacher that the majority of future educators do not have the chance to learn or experience before having to conduct one as a teacher. I highly recommend every education major, or anyone who will be interacting with children in their career, to utilize Mursion during their time at ECU.

Junior English Education major Makenzie Evans teaches a class using the Mursion Lab.

Junior English Education major Makenzie Evans teaches a class using the Mursion Lab.

Mursion Opportunities Outside Education

For those outside of the education field, Mursion has multiple other simulations that can be applied to almost any major or career. Participants can interact with patients as a doctor, engage with a room full of business board members, or converse with customers in a hospitality management setting. Regardless of major, Mursion can provide the opportunity to experience these simulation environments to help prepare for almost anything!

–Meghan Lower, Junior EC Scholar, Science Education Major

Find more information about Mursion here:



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