February 8, 2021
VINCENNES, Ind. – Helping others is the first step in making the world a better place.
Vincennes University students are positively impacting the lives of others in a major way. They are on the frontlines of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Inside the bustling Knox County Health Department Covid-19 Vaccine Clinic, students are putting in several hours each day performing nearly every type of duty to support distribution efforts throughout the semester.
Around 30 VU nursing students are administering the vaccine. Numerous Homeland Security and Public Safety students are checking in vaccine recipients upon their arrival at the clinic, assisting with the call center, helping with registration, monitoring for side effects, and providing tech support to volunteers and health department staff in addition to countless other tasks.
“I didn’t think I’d ever live through a pandemic and it’s really neat to be able to help those that need it,” Nursing student volunteer Alisha Amos of Mount Vernon said.
It’s not only VU students who are working in partnership with the Knox County Health Department to support Covid-19 vaccine distribution, VU faculty, staff, and alumni are also among the daily volunteers assisting in protecting lives.
Homeland Security and Public Safety student Precious Townsend of Kokomo is serving as an intern at the clinic and she will volunteer well over 200 hours of her time there this semester. She’s involved in almost every aspect of the clinic plus she recruits student volunteers, then schedules them for shifts.
“Protecting and serving is what I’ve dedicated my life to,” Townsend said. “We are the future. With us being here, we are representing the future and we are representing our knowledge, our expertise, and our training by simply being here. It feels great to know we are giving back to the community especially as students.
“A lot of us aren’t even from Knox County and it brings tears of joy to me just knowing that we are serving and it doesn’t have to be only in our community. We also realize and recognize too that Knox County has given back to us as well because we are students of Vincennes University.”
The act of giving back is also helping to boost a sense of purpose among the students in this unprecedented time.
“We all have the same common goal of helping people and this is a great place to start,” Homeland Security and Public Safety student volunteer Jacob Cox of Martinsville said. “It gives me a sense of hope that we are helping in the process of protecting someone’s life.”
Another Homeland Security and Public Safety student is Kayla McClure of Indianapolis is also interning at the clinic. She feels it is important for her and others of her generation to do their part in the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I feel like I’m helping protect the community one shot at a time, starting with older people,” she said. “I want to make sure they are happy and healthy. We’re happy to help them and their families feel safer being around each other. VU students want to help and do as much as we can.”
VU students are gaining real-world, history-making experiences during every minute spent at the clinic. They’re learning lessons that cannot be taught in the classroom as they hone their skills in preparing for careers that will help people in many different ways.
“I got a really great experience from this,” VU Nursing student volunteer Madison Wildman of Washington said. “It helps you see what you’ll be doing as a nurse and getting feedback from retired nurses is really beneficial. It feels really good just to know I’m helping to give someone maybe a chance to fight Covid with the vaccine.”
Knox County Health Officer Dr. Alan Stewart describes the efforts of the student volunteers as moving.
“This is a community emergency and we are seeing an outpouring of young people,” he said. “The Homeland Security students have met people from the state and they’ve been able to network. This is a good opportunity for nursing students to get clinical experience, and they’ve seen very emotional things when people just burst into tears when they get their shots.”
The pandemic has shown us how much we rely on others and playing a role in assisting the community is making the students, faculty, staff, and alumni feel good.
Homeland Security and Public Safety Program Chair and Associate Professor Louis Caprino was instrumental in spearheading VU’s engagement in this initiative.
“This is a special opportunity for us to give back to the citizens of Knox and surrounding counties,” Caprino said. "The students are in the clinic providing a critical administrative and supportive function as they develop key skills as the future of our homeland security workforce. Of all the community-related events our homeland security students have participated in during my 13-year tenure at the University, this is truly a special and important opportunity. I'm proud and grateful for the unselfish and dedicated commitment of our students, alumni, faculty, and family members who have come together to support this endeavor.”
At a time when helping others is of the utmost importance, students see themselves as giving hope one shot at a time.
“I didn’t expect that people would be so emotional,” Townsend said. “They are appreciative and grateful that they have the opportunity to be able to take a vaccine and for it to be free of charge.”
VU Homeland Security and Public Safety student volunteer Nicholas Mirabelli of Indianapolis added, “I feel relieved knowing they got the shot and there is hope for them.”