Student's Innovation and Spirit Apparent in His Two for OneShot System
I’m not what you call a traditional college student. When my parents got divorced, I was five; my mom and I packed our bags and moved to Arizona from Pennsylvania to start a brand new life. Growing up, I was always pushing myself into leadership roles, whether that meant barking out orders to stuffed animals on my playground as I led them into a fierce war, or soaking up the opportunities that Student Council had to offer. I was always ‘that kid’ who you could have pinned to be a leader one day.
ASU student Tyler Eltringham reacts after his team was awarded $10,000 in funding from the 2011 Innovation Challenge. Photo by Tom Story
Flash-forward to high school: my mom, who also happens to be my best friend, fell very ill with pancreatitis and grand maul epilepsy. My stepdad had to quit his job to take care of my mom full-time, and our financial situation darkened. For three years we battled poverty and on-and-off homelessness, but the entire time my mom never gave up hope that I would have the best possible future she could possibly provide. That image of selflessness shaped the leader I am today. With her condition worsening, I dropped out of high school and got my GED, hoping to spend more time with her. Seeing her passed from doctor to doctor with no one wanting to take ownership of her disease infuriated me. It became the catalyst for my next move.
Through a few acts of serendipity, I found myself an undergraduate at ASU as a Barack Obama Scholar. Wanting to gain a truly interdisciplinary education, I thrust myself into a Bachelor of Science program in Geographical Sciences and also followed the traditional premedical coursework. Through networking and word of mouth, I found myself meeting a number of incredible people around campus and found myself involved in such organizations like Gamma Theta Upsilon, the Geography Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-health honor society, SSBTR (Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research) and as a student worker for the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.
It was the mix of my training in geography and pre-med that led me to create OneShot, a non-profit organization that provides meningococcal meningitis vaccinations to college students. The funding model of OneShot emulates Tom’s Shoes; in a one-for-one fashion, for every meningitis shot purchased on a university campus, we donate a vaccination to the meningitis belt of Africa.
I have no traditional business background or training, but simply a will to lead and the ambition to succeed. In fact, at the time that I heard about the ASU Innovation Challenge, I certainly did not identify as an entrepreneur; I was just determined to make a difference while moving my career forward. With the help of my mentors Michael Mokwa from the W.P. Carey School of Business and Dr. Denise Link, from the College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation, and the support of a team of dedicated peers, OneShot took home the $10,000 grand prize of the ASU Innovation Challenge.
I fight through every day to achieve greater, authentic success, to one day become a physician who is driven by a personal connection and passion. I want to provide a life for my parents to relax in a secure environment, as they did for me, and I know that with enough drive and conviction, my dreams of supporting my family and making a difference in the lives of others through my ambitions in the medical field are within reach.
Submitted by Tyler Eltringham. Originally published in ASU's Pulse Newsletter