Megan Watkins ’97 is helping individuals and organizations make an outsize social impact on everything from animal protection to human services
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last spring, Barnard sprung into action, with many alumnae, students, faculty, and staff lending their talents, time, and expertise to support and protect the Barnard community, as well as their local communities. Some got creative by launching new business ventures, while others stepped up as frontline workers and volunteers for meal services.
For the campus community, the College implemented various initiatives to promote health and safety, including the Barnard Health Ambassador Program (BHA). Launched virtually in September 2020, the program currently consists of six students, three faculty, and 18 staff members who aim to cultivate community, educate their peers, and ensure a healthy campus experience for all.
“It’s been exciting to invent the program and to see how the BHAs are community driven. Our student BHAs come up with great ways to engage the community by designing fun activities that are remote alternatives to in-person gatherings. They’re truly committed to showing that being safe and separate doesn’t mean the community can’t come together in meaningful ways,” says Allie Emmerich, Program Director for Arts Education and a staff Barnard Health Ambassador.
While classes were remote over the fall semester, the Barnard Health Ambassadors kept everyone updated through email and newsletters. They also harnessed the power of social media to promote fun initiatives, share resources on safety protocols, and provide updates, including Barnard/Columbia case numbers. Now that many students are back on campus, the BHAs provide in-person resources, such as masks and hand sanitizers. And despite the 6-foot degree of separation, they are creating opportunities to connect.
“I appreciate my time as a student health ambassador because it gives me a chance to look out for my peers by sharing important information with them. It’s not only about protecting students against coronavirus, it’s also about protecting their well-being in general,” says student health ambassador Naomi Jones ’23. “I want students to feel like they are not alone in this pandemic: Your thoughts and feelings matter, and we want to hear your concerns!”
Visit @bhabarnard for more information and updates.