Ayla Heder

Ayla gets research experience through SWITCH program

Ayla Heder always knew she wanted a career in the health field. The kinesiology program brought her to Iowa State University and she has taken advantage of her college adventure. Currently, she works as a research assistant through the SWITCH program at Iowa State.

Ayla applied to the program the spring of her junior year. After applying, she was matched with Spyridoula Vazou, a professor whose research matched Ayla’s interests. Ayla contacted Vazou and set up an interview. She received the position and began working this August.

In the beginning of her training, Ayla learned the meaning and purpose of the program.

“It’s about switching what you do,” she said. “The motto is ‘switch what you do, view, and chew.’ It’s about changing your diet and increasing your physical activity.”

During her 10 hours a week, which qualify for work study, Ayla is collecting data, attending meetings, and understanding how the program works in real life.

“I am learning how a program like this can work, how realistic it is to implement and how all the pieces work together.”

As she gets closer to the end of her undergraduate years, she plans to attend graduate school to pursue a career as a health policy analyst for a health organization. She said her experience with SWITCH added another layer to her education, and she recommends other students take part as well.

“Get involved in research,” she said. “It helps you understand your program and how to implement it. It also helps you make connections to what you learn in class and how to apply it.”