Livingstone College Students Engage in Vaccine Outreach
By Da'Tarvia Parrish
As the world strives to increase availability and accessibility to the Covid-19 vaccines, Livingstone College and its students are engaging in measures to secure and protect its population and many more. In addition to being a Covid-19 testing and vaccine administering site, Livingstone has partnered with the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) to train emerging leaders.
IFYC is a national non-profit organization with the mission of working towards an America where people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions can bridge variances and find common values to build a shared life together. As President Joe Biden recently declared June 4 to July 4 as a “Month of Action” with the goal to increase vaccination rates to 70% of American adults by Independence Day; IFYC has tasked its Faith in the Vaccine Higher Education Ambassadors to engage in vaccine outreach within their communities.
The student Ambassadors are based on the community health worker model, and are trained to engage people through their religious and ethnic communities. Of the 120 campuses and over 2,000 students, Ambassadors serve as messengers who offer a valuable touchpoint to the initiative. They provide a listening and sympathetic ear to understand concerns, and relatable fact-based scientific information about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, with a values-centered inspiration about the importance of receiving it.
Through a grant application and selection process, Livingstone College has been awarded $45,000 for individual stipends to 25 Ambassadors in an effort to protect vulnerable populations against the virus that has caused such profound sorrow, loss, and change in our mosaic world. President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., stated, “The Livingstone College family has been directly impacted by the global pandemic; and as one of the responsibilities of academia is to lead the masses, we’re elated our students are engaging in opportunities to adequately equip themselves to partake in hands-on experiences that are aligned with our holistic modules, such as faith-based strategies for the enhancement of the quality of life.”
Ambassador Justin Wade commented, “I recognize there has been a long history of medical mistrust within African American communities. It is my goal to navigate through these barriers by fostering dialogue and offering science-based solutions to vaccine-hesitant people and the populations I encounter or serve. I am happy for this opportunity.”
Under the Faith in the Vaccine Project, IFYC Covid-19 Ambassadors from Livingstone College kicked-off their programming with a “Vaccinate and Vacate” campaign in May to all students preparing to leave campus for the summer. The June activities include social media campaigns to “Vaccinate and Celebrate Juneteenth” and “Keep Dads Safe” for Fathers’ Day; along with a college-student panel, “Covid-19 with College Students,” in collaboration with Southern University A&M College at Baton Rouge, Voorhees College, and York College, that will discuss the 2020-2021 higher learning educational experiences and the impact the global pandemic has had on the lives of undergraduate college students. The event will be moderated by Livingstone College Alumnus Rev. Sam Brown who serves as branch president of the NAACP in Knoxville, TN and chairman of Young Adults in Christian Ministries of the AME Zion Church. Centered around Independence Day and family reunions, the July campaign will reflect on personal motivations to act and connect with families and friends through personal stories, as Ambassadors articulate their unique inspiration for engaging in vaccine outreach work. Of course, the August campaign is all about “Back-to-School.”
Livingstone College’s Faith in the Vaccine Higher Education Ambassadors are: Samuel Allen of Winston-Salem, NC; Marquisha Bates of Washington, DC who will work in Salisbury, NC; Casandra Bennett of Chestefield, SC; Savannah Bennett of Wadesboro, NC; Autumnreign Bush of Washington, DC; JoAnna Edwards of Thomasville, NC; Emile Dogbe of Accra, Ghana, Michael Gilyard of Owingsmills, MD; Alexandria Griffin of Upper Marlboro, MD; Bria Griffith of ¬¬¬Wilson, NC; Tahirou Hamidou of Bronx, NY; Niya Holmes of Chicago, IL; Quintin Jordan of Dayton, Ohio; Juliet Makena of Nairobi, Kenya; Korrie McEachern of Goldsboro, NC; William McCorn of Rock Hill, SC; Varvara Papakonstantinou of Athens, Greece; Carlee Patterson of Hartford, CT; Eryka Praileau of Greenville, SC; Cameron Robinson of Winston-Salem, NC; Loghan Simmons of Charlotte, NC; Justin Wade of Charlotte, NC; Deborah Walker of Charlotte, NC; Kendall Williamson of Pfafftown, NC; and Kameron Wilson of Hampton, VA. Their coach, faculty Dr. Da’Tarvia Parrish a resident of Salisbury, North Carolina will work in her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.