LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 16, 2021) — Nearly 50 students, staff and faculty from the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information (CI) arrived at UK’s Kroger Field COVID-19 vaccination clinic early April 10 to volunteer, playing a part in a record-setting day when 4.6 million doses were administered across the U.S.
While those in the health care related colleges at UK have been active since the clinic opened, drawing doses and immunizing the public, many volunteer roles can be filled by anyone. CI Dean Jennifer Greer worked with UK Health Corps to organize CI day at the clinic, placing students, staff and faculty in positions like registration, wayfinding, transporting patients and taking doses to immunization stations. Greer checked in volunteers and provided relief to those in other roles throughout the day.
“Serving our community is central to everything we do at CI,” Greer said. “This opportunity was a way to do that while also coming together physically as a whole college for the first time in more than a year. It was a special day.”
Drew Lane, the college personnel officer in CI, called his time volunteering “incredibly inspiring.”
“Our community has a real reason to be proud — the vaccine clinic at Kroger Field is a world-class operation, and it was truly awe-inspiring to see it from the volunteer side,” Lane said. “I am so proud to work at UK, and I am especially proud to work in CI, where we live out our mission of service in everything we do.”
Giving back is exactly why CI doctoral student Adam Tristan has been volunteering weekly for more than a month. To encourage the CI community to sign up for the volunteer event, Tristan made a video. In the video, he shares how full of hope he was after receiving his first vaccination. He now sees that same hope on the faces of those getting immunized.
“The hope that was given to me, I want to give to others,” he said. “We need to show the rest of the UK community how important they are to us, and how important it is to get vaccinated.”
Fittingly, Tristan transported in a wheelchair the last member of the public vaccinated during the April 10 shift, closing out CI’s day at the clinic.
Another CI student, Camille Wright, a double major in integrated strategic communication and digital media and design, was assigned a wayfinding role for her shift. Wright greeted each patient sent to her station with a cheerful “good morning,” as she pointed them to the next open vaccination station.
Wright, who could be seen happily dancing in place when not directing traffic, said she loves the college, loves to volunteer and encouraged others to do the same as it is the quickest way back to “normal.”
UK Health Corps’ Emily Boggs, who served as volunteer manager for the April 10 clinic, said it was wonderful to see so many volunteers from a single college. The CI personnel wore matching shirts, which made the team presence visible throughout the day.
“As we have seen our numbers of vaccines go up, our volunteer numbers have gone down,” Boggs said.
As of March 30, the clinic operates two shifts Tuesday through Friday and one shift on Saturdays. Each clinic shift relies on about 100 volunteers, including clinical and non-clinical positions. The clinical positions are usually filled by volunteers from most of UK’s health care colleges
Dr. David DeVito, assistant professor in the Division of Oral Diagnosis and Oral Medicine in the College of Dentistry, is in his fifth weekend of volunteering. DeVito, the husband of CI Senior Lecturer Allyson DeVito, said working at the clinic is an opportunity to help move the Commonwealth to pre-pandemic life.
“The people who come are excited by the opportunity to bring their lives back to normal, and it is exciting to me to be a part of that,” DeVito said.
For Erika Engstrom, director of the School of Journalism and Media (JAM), it marked the first time she had met people in the school and college outside of Zoom. Engstrom was hired during the height of the pandemic, when many operations were remote.
"What an absolute thrill to finally see my CI colleagues and JAM school faculty in person,” Engstrom said. “Even though we were all masked up, just being together and doing our part in this vaccination effort was so wonderful. I'm so, so proud to be at UK and part of the CI team."
Those interested in volunteering at the vaccination clinic in either a clinical or non-clinical capacity can sign up here.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.