COPH Health Heroes join fight against COVID-19

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When the USF Student Health Services (SHS) put out a call late in the summer looking for both clinical and non-clinical volunteers to support its office in providing COVID-related vaccination and testing services to students, several USF College of Public Health students didn’t hesitate to lend a hand. Many volunteered for multiple shifts on multiple days. They did everything from answer general questions to replenishing hand sanitizer to assisting with emails. 

The volunteers were part of a team helping to meet a September inter-university challenge for the most COVID vaccinations by student health centers at USF, University of Central Florida, Florida State University and the University of Florida. Currently, USF has administered the most vaccinations among the four universities.

USF student during COVID-19 testing and vaccination initiative (Photo courtesy of SHS)

Why did these COPH students decide to put their passion into practice, and what was their experience like? Here are a few of their stories.

Jahanvi Patel, MPH student 

“I got an email saying that SHS was in real need of volunteers for their COVID-19 screening and vaccination program. Without wasting a second, I decided to grab the chance [to volunteer], because I already worked as a volunteer during my dental school education [in India]. And as I was new here, I also wanted to know about the U.S. healthcare system. I was going twice a week as a volunteer for a month. I was sending instructions and reminders to international students who were coming in the fall, informing them about the COVID-19 campus pass and answering their questions regarding vaccination and quarantine. It was my first experience working in a healthcare system in this country. Every staff member was so polite, warm and caring. It was a great experience. Whenever USF needs me, I’ll always be there to help.”

USF student volunteers during Covid-19 testing and vaccination initiative (Photo courtesy of SHS)

Nashari Carter, MPH student

“I recently finished my summer classes and started looking for volunteer opportunities on campus or in the community. While looking for opportunities, I came across the SHS announcement on Canvas. I felt that volunteering with SHS was a great way to put the public health skills I learned in the classroom to use in real-world situations and aid in the fight against COVID-19 on campus. As a volunteer, I helped USF students check-in if they had an appointment for COVID-19 testing or needed to visit the Student Health Annex for immunizations, health insurance, etc. I also sent emails to international USF students in preparation for their arrival to campus. The students had to provide information on their vaccination status or if they planned to receive the vaccine or quarantine before arriving on campus. I enjoyed working with the physicians, nurses and staff members at SHS. They were kind and thoroughly explained my duties as a volunteer. I also enjoyed the experience of actively participating in the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 on campus. It made me feel like I was already a public health professional! Because I helped collect COVID-19 data on USF students, which is essential information that can be used by SHS to monitor and control the disease on campus, I really felt like I was helping to advance public health. My work also helped promote public health by working toward the control of COVID-19 through testing and vaccination. These are vital aspects in the fight against the disease.”

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health