I’m a strong believer of networking to share ideas. I believe that through these networks, groups of people are better equipped to tackle some of the world’s hardest problems, whether it’s food/water insecurity or health.
I have lived in Kingston, Jamaica for my entire life, where I attended a Jesuit high school that was very strict on excellence through learning. In my earlier years, I’ve always been STEM oriented. Coming to Dartmouth, I realized the need for a liberal arts education. I branched out to try different disciplines, whether it was economics or environmental sciences.
I greatly care about technology, being an engineering student. Technology brings a wealth of information, which is power. It can be used as a tool to transcend class and socio-economic boundaries, which are very prevalent in Jamaica. While Jamaica may be a great, beautiful country with many hidden treasures, poverty and social disparities are quite rampant. Education is one thing that would have a massive impact on poverty alleviation. It brings key knowledge that allows an impoverished set of people to obtain high skill jobs, which translates to economic growth.
If we merge technology and education, we can leverage information with students who can transcend their barriers.
For three or four years, I have been working with Rise Education, which aims at increasing education access to marginalized children in Jamaica. One of the problems we face now is how to bridge the student to the teacher, especially during these uncertain times to ensure that a curriculum is efficiently taught and that the students learn effectively. Merging technology and education to form low cost, e-learning frameworks will curb poverty alleviation.
Last year before the pandemic, we would go down to a community center and we would teach the students in person. Given the pandemic is still going on, we’ve used Zoom, Google teams and other resources to teach the students because every year these students have regional examinations that they need to prepare for. Quite often, they do not have the resources such as books, pencils, or pens to study.
When everything got worse during the spring term, one of the decisions I had to make was whether or not I should go home and be with my family, or be in the US to continue my education. I stayed up to finish the term, but that was a low time for my family and friends, where I learned how to grow with friends at a distance. During the spring term, I had reached an epiphany of uncertainty and that really scared me. My cure was to put myself in a space of meditation to reconcile with how I felt about certain situations. I locked down focusing on self learning and self-help through books and tools.
I spent a lot of time reading books and learning new programming technologies. The next step is learning how I can use these tools to empower and educate the disenfranchised. In three years, I see myself pursuing a master’s in engineering management. I’ve been thinking about how to develop leadership skills that will refocus technology development in the lens of social impact. I may serve on an advisory board for engineering and technology for Jamaica, which could take on the form of a private consultant group or a position in government.
When I think about where I’m at today, I could not have achieved it simply by my own volition. It was through the support from my family and the King Scholar network that has allowed me to grow and develop myself. Given that, I see myself leveraging technology that I’ve learned over the years to create systems for wide-scale, social impact.
Tyler Neath is a King Scholar at Dartmouth College (’21). He majors in Engineering Sciences and is from Kingston, Jamaica.