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Voluntarily immune: OSU students volunteer to aid vaccine distribution

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Oklahoma is now distributing vaccines to virtually all individuals. So far, 619,062 people have been fully vaccinated in Oklahoma.

There is more to the vaccination process than simply ensuring that you receive it. Planning, organization and manpower is needed to get the job done.

Enter: Student volunteers.

Since vaccine rollout began, the state of Oklahoma’s distributing process has made great progress fairly fast, and Oklahoma State University has stayed ahead of the game when it comes to vaccine rollout. 

Behind this great progress is the students. There are dozens of OSU students who are working countless hours at University Health Services in order to serve the OSU community in a way that is unique to any other act of service.

Erin Garlett, a pre-health senior, said that she will never forget the first vaccine clinic she worked at UHS. Her job was simple, yet important: Garlett served as the hall monitor. Garlett’s role was to monitor the patients in the 15 minute waiting period post-vaccine. 

Since it was the first clinic and an early-round of distribution, most of the patients on this particular day were 65 or older, many of which were OSU faculty and staff.

 “The atmosphere in the clinic was absolutely joyful. One man gave me praises and thank-yous, on the edge of tears,” Garlett said. 

A strong majority, if not all, of the students that are volunteering, are on pre-med and pre-health tracks and aspire to someday have a career in the medical field. 

Brianna Roenbeck, a junior pre-med psychology student hopes to be a physician’s assistant one day. 

“I am passionate about science and the well-being of others and the COVID-19 vaccine is an amazing work of science put to help millions of individuals become protected,” Roenbeck said. “This is the perfect opportunity to experience some of the things I will encounter in (physician’s assistant school) and I am excited to do my part to further science and help others.”

Rachel Goethe, a sophomore majoring in physiology pre-med, is a volunteer at UHS and notices that Oklahoma State is distributing vaccines at an impressive rate compared to other institutions.

“UHS is taking on a huge responsibility offering these vaccine clinics. When you look at other colleges in the state, no one is doing what we’re doing. It involves an incredible amount of effort, organization, and flexibility on everyone’s part to be to effectively distribute the vaccine the way we are,” Rachel Goethe said.

Manoj Jagadeeshl is a sophomore that hopes to be a physician one day.

“The best part of being involved in the vaccine distribution process is getting to see the joy on everyone’s faces as they get vaccinated and how we are finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and get back to our normal lives,” Jagadeeshl said.

Many of the people that came in for phase 2 of the vaccine have not been to a public facility since last March when quarantine began. Jena Siler, a senior at OSU, was volunteering at UHS during that phase and noticed the high morale in the clinic.

“Getting to visit with them and see the sense of joy on their faces was such a treat,” Siler said.

Siler described it as a busy role that was quite humbling. She loves the opportunity to help the Stillwater community. 

These student volunteers are having an experience that deeply affects the Stillwater community and is going to help bring OSU back to the typical college experience. 

The students’ responsibilities range from checking the patients in, helping with paperwork and monitoring them after they receive the vaccine.

Kaitlyn Hill has worked at UHS since her freshman year and has been through the whole pandemic with them. 

“The best part of helping out with the COVID-19 vaccine distribution is being a part of something bigger; I feel a great responsibility to serve the campus,” Hill said. 

The students that are behind the vaccine clinics are working countless hours to best serve the community. While they are serving, they are learning from the professionals that are here to serve the community and guide these young medical volunteers. 

“The selflessness that the (UHS staff) demonstrate on a daily basis, being willing to work tirelessly to serve others, is truly something worth noting. Something that follows the ‘Loyal and True’ mindset here at Oklahoma State.” Siler said. 

The students who are devoting their time right now are the future health care professionals of Oklahoma, with their first experiences being on the front line of a historic pandemic and helping the OSU community through it.