Ahead of the spring semester, the University is expanding Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps activities to address the community’s needs during the pandemic.
The volunteer program, supported by the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice, is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Student volunteers will have the opportunity to engage in service opportunities related to health and well-being and have the option to serve in a leadership capacity where they will receive essential skills for project management and keeping the Carolina community healthy.
“We’re hopeful this is one example of how we can build our community together, to be able to stay safe and also serve for the betterment of society,” said Meg Zomorodi, a professor at the UNC School of Nursing and the assistant provost of the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice.
Volunteers will work on various projects in the Carolina and Chapel Hill communities, including social media campaigns, student outreach, support at COVID-testing sites and contact tracing. Students will also have the opportunity to attend Zoom sessions to learn about health professions and hear from community leaders.
“As a first-year, I wanted to join clubs and be a part of the UNC community, but with COVID-19, that couldn’t really happen,” said Emmalyn Fleming, a first-year student studying pre-nursing. “I was having a hard time meeting friends and finding things to be a part of, so when I heard about this, I thought this would be a great way for me to be a part of something on campus and help with something that’s so pressing in our society right now.”
Fleming, who is on the Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps leadership team, is passionate about helping others.
“This is something I’ve been wanting to do because ever since COVID first started, I’ve been wondering what I can do to help,” she said. “This was definitely a blessing, and something that I think will benefit a lot of people.”
The Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps first started in the summer when UNC-Chapel Hill health professional students lost the opportunity to work in clinics when the pandemic began. As a way for students to meet their required clinical hours, Carolina adapted the model from the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Those who complete 75 hours with the Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps will receive a certificate of completion. Zomorodi hopes this opportunity will benefit the community while also helping students interested in health care careers get experience in the fields.
“Students who are interested in going into the health professions haven’t had the opportunity to shadow or volunteer — experiences that are critical for advancing a career in health,” Zomorodi said. “Serving in the CSSC will help these students have this opportunity that they can talk about in applications for graduate work, residency programs, and beyond. That’s also true for folks interested in public policy, government and business. The volunteer and service opportunities have diminished, so we’re creating an opportunity for students to serve and learn.”