Student stories

EPHE co-op student learns about the science of nutrition

Alexa Dogherty

Health Essentials

Health Essentials is a locally owned natural health store that I have worked at for about 1.5 years. Their purpose is to create a community of health conscious consumers who wanted to engage with knowledgeable staff who could actually help them make sense of the products available. Lynn, Ty and Brady, the owners and general manager, hand selects every item in the store. There is a lot of junk out there, so having a place you can trust is very important. This was and continues to be the objective of Health Essentials. The target population of this store is literally everybody. All walks of life are welcome to come chat about the products, lifestyle and anything else they want to. There is a toy chest for kids and magnifying glasses for the customers with aging eyes. We offer monthly seminars and work shops with professionals of various fields: biomechanists, naturopaths, scientists, mycologists, herbalists and more. We as staff are so lucky to have the opportunity to listen to these different professionals and build our own perspective and opinions.

My contribution in this store has shifted over the past 1.5 years. I started as a store clerk, so my main role was to keep the store looking nice and full, greet customers and basically help with a wide array of tasks that needed to be done. Currently, my role is as a hostess. This is somebody who can talk to customers about product, specifically supplements. This is a role that usually takes over 2 years to transition into but because of my eagerness to learn and passion for the role, I have successfully transitioned months before. This role takes quite a bit of training, education and a whole lot of information to be absorbed, but since I love learning about it, that was easy. I do other tasks as well, including some accounting work and staff education, but my main role I like to focus on is working on the floor engaging with customers.

This type of learning directly and indirectly relates to my studies. Being in the health field, I have used a lot of the knowledge I learned throughout my degree. Specifically cell physiology. This being said, this workplace is what triggered a passion for my own health – not my degree. Natural health is a beautiful industry with many specializations to learn about, something that is not taught in Recreation and Health Education, and before I started at Health Essentials, I knew close to nothing about the science of nutrition and more generally natural health. This is not to say anything negative about the program, just different perspectives. Now I know more than most people, and that’s a really great feeling.  This entire thing was unexpected. I can’t pick a moment or a week or even a month, because I have been immersed in something that I didn’t even know I loved until I started! I’ve been asked many times how this place as impacted my future, and for this question I really can’t even begin to describe, but I’ll try. Before Health Essentials I had no idea what I wanted to do, what path I should take, and I was beginning to question the degree I was 4 years deep into. Then, I typed “health” into Google and stumbled upon the website of this store. The rest is history. I fell in love with the community, the information and basically everything else about it. I feel amazing since I changed my lifestyle and dietary habits, and I absolutely love that I am in a place where I can pass my knowledge onto others looking for help starting. I guess nobody knows if fate is real, but I am definitely supposed to be right where I am, continuing to brew up a passion for something that one day I’ll find a way to share with the world.

More about Exercise science, physical and health education co-op