Ohio Wesleyan staff volunteer their time to support quarantined students
By A.L. Davies ’19
In her role as a volunteer care coordinator, Ohio Wesleyan University employee Kerrie Kirkpatrick has made more than telephone calls to support students in coronavirus confinement. She also has made deliveries of snack bags, coffee, and even tacos to ensure students feel cared for and connected.
Kirkpatrick, OWU’s associate director of alumni engagement and reunions, says she enjoys these “little wins” to support students in isolation (who have tested positive for COVID-19) or quarantine (who have had close contact with someone testing positive).
“They were so thrilled to have some normalcy in their evening,” Kirkpatrick says of deliveries. “Just the phone call when they received the bags of goodies – it was all worth it.”
Led by Jess Ettell Irvine, assistant dean for student integrity and community standards, Ohio Wesleyan’s volunteer care coordinators check in daily with their students, helping them as needed to contact concerned parents and professors, monitor their health, get meals delivered, and more. The care coordinators often find themselves answering after-hours calls and texts to ensure their students have the support they need.
Doug Koyle, associate dean for student success, reports immediately receiving positive feedback from students served by the care coordinators. Because his division is so busy with day-to-day management of testing and response, the care coordinators ensure regular OWU contact with quarantined and isolated students.
Lauren Vermillion, associate director of advancement, says she has enjoyed the additional interaction with students from volunteering as a care coordinator – and she is happy to help her colleagues in Student Affairs as they deal with all of the issues created by the pandemic.
Vermillion says she is inspired by the resiliency of OWU students during this challenging time. Motivated by the loneliness she felt during her first year of college and her passion for building community, she wants her students to know that OWU has their back as they adjust into college life – in and out of quarantine.
Netflix and TikTok
Alanna Henderson, assistant director of young alumni and student engagement, also is drawing upon her experience as a first-year student to provide community for those affected by the coronavirus.
“Thinking back to my freshman move-in day and those first few days on campus, it was tough adjusting to being away from home for the first time,” Henderson says. “I never want students who went straight into quarantine to feel forgotten about.”
Aside from checking on her students’ health, Henderson also enjoys sharing Netflix recommendations and TikTok videos.
‘Stronger Than Ever’
Even though OWU has a smaller on-campus population this fall (with some students learning remotely), the care coordinators say they’re interacting with more people than ever as faculty and staff come together to support students.
“I feel like the Ohio Wesleyan community is stronger than ever,” says Allie Hausfeld, social media strategist and care coordinator. “Everyone knows we must work together to stay on campus and safe this semester.
“The on-campus experience is so important to the education students receive at OWU,” Hausfeld says, “and I want to make sure these students feel supported and taken care of while they’re here.”
Henderson agrees that spirit, energy, and respect in the OWU community is still alive and well.
“What makes Ohio Wesleyan so special is the culture of care among students, faculty, staff, and even alumni – especially during these challenging times,” she says.