As colleges across the country face the challenge of getting students to abide by their pandemic safety guidelines, a group of Montclair State students have stepped up to put friendly pressure on others to wear their masks, practice social distancing and follow health and safety guidelines.
The University has hired and trained 26 undergraduate students as Community Health Ambassadors to support public health initiatives related to the University Restart Plan and COVID-19 safety guidelines.
One of these is Debree Rucker, a senior Family Science and Human Development major, whose grandfather died of COVID-19. “I don’t want anyone to go through what my family went through,” says Rucker. “I want students and faculty to fully comprehend just how important these preventative measures are. The biggest challenge is trying to get individuals to think selflessly but it’s rewarding to know I’m helping make a difference.”
Adam Burger, a junior Business Administration major loves interacting with others as a Community Health Ambassador. “Whether it’s letting people know where a certain building is, giving them a mask to use, or simply greeting them as they walk by, everyone is always so kind and welcoming,” he says. “Working in this position gives me a lot of faith about the future of Montclair State’s community throughout the coronavirus pandemic, because almost everyone is following CDC guidelines.”
Launched on Red Hawk Day, August 24, the day before classes began, the program works to strategically station Ambassadors across campus to greet students, faculty and staff, and to help them complete Hawk Check, encourage social distancing and the use of face coverings, and provide information regarding the proper use of masks or face coverings and distancing as necessary.
“We are excited about the Community Health Ambassadors,” says Marie Cascarano, Office of Health Promotion, who is coordinating the program with the help of Tara Mellor, associate director of Residence Life. “Most students are really concerned about the health and safety of our community and want to do the right thing. This program reinforces that.”
Story by staff writer Mary Barr Mann