Emmalyn Fleming, a first-year student on the pre-nursing track, has always had a passion for helping others. In her first year at Carolina, she’s already getting a unique opportunity to do just that.
Last semester, Fleming joined the Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps, a volunteer program made up of undergraduate and graduate students who work on various service opportunities related to COVID-19 relief in the Carolina and Chapel Hill communities.
“I’ve wanted to do something to help with COVID-19 and being part of the Student Service Corps gives you that unique opportunity to actually help,” she said.
As one of the program’s student leaders this semester, Fleming helps oversee the Carolina Together testing sites on campus. Volunteers at the testing sites greet people, direct them to testing tables, give them their testing swabs or transport the boxes of swabs to the lab.
Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps is just one of the building blocks that has been preparing Fleming for a future career as a nurse.
Caring for others
Ever since she was in high school in Apex, North Carolina, Fleming has focused on helping others — both in the community and at home.
As a volunteer in the “Project Unify” program, she spent much of her high school years assisting students with intellectual disabilities, participating in activities with them and helping them transition into life after high school. She felt the calling to help people feel more comfortable in the world.
But it wasn’t this volunteer program that made her decide to want to become a nurse. Nor was it the fact that both her mother and grandmother are nurses, too.
Her career path became clear when her younger brother, who has a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, had an adrenal crisis when they were home alone. He had passed out and neither her parents nor her grandparents immediately answered their phones when she called them.
“I felt so helpless in that situation, and I never want to feel that way again,” Fleming said. “You never want to see your brother that way and then feel like you just can’t do anything to help. Since that moment, I’ve been really focusing on making sure I know how to give that injection if he does go into crisis again.
“That made me realize that nursing is what I want to do. I want to be able to help people like my brother and help when they go through periods of crisis.”
A Tar Heel nurse
Pursuing a degree in nursing at Carolina was an obvious choice for her.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Carolina since I was in middle school and was interested in the top-ranked nursing program here,” she said. “My older sister goes to Carolina, so hearing the fun stories she told me made me want to go here even more. But I knew Carolina is a very challenging school to go to, so I had to work very hard on my grades.”
Fleming’s first semester on campus was cut short when she tested positive for COVID-19, quarantined and then went home for the remote semester. She knows how it feels to be sick and feels even more inspired to help others.
“It’s so hard just sitting in my room and feeling like there’s nothing I can do to help, except to wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from people and to only see your family members, but that’s where the Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps comes in,” she said.
As a member of the Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps, Fleming is able to help others experiencing similar situations. It has also provided her the opportunity to get better acquainted with the campus community.
“Especially with being a first-year student, it has been so hard to meet people at Carolina over Zoom, so this gives me the opportunity to meet people but in a safe way,” she said.
While Fleming hasn’t had a typical start to her college experience due to the pandemic, she is excited to join more organizations at Carolina and continue with her studies on the pre-nursing track.
“When I step on the Carolina campus, I feel like I’m automatically welcomed,” she said. “I feel accepted, and that I can be who I am, I can do what I want to do and I can achieve my goals at Carolina. There are a lot of people there that will help me along the way. I think it’s, overall, a great university.”