COVID-19 vaccine distribution offers experience, insight for ASU nursing students

April 20, 2021

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Arizona State University has played an integral part in the state’s public health response to the novel coronavirus. From developing and administering a saliva-based COVID-19 test to contact tracing and, more recently, vaccine distribution and site management.

As part of the wider university efforts on campus and in the community, students have had unprecedented opportunities to get involved and gain hands-on experience, too. Edson College students pose before starting their shift at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the East Valley Edson College nursing students have had the opportunity to actively participate in the state's public health response to the pandemic. Download Full Image

So far, more than 400 hundred students in ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation have participated in sample collection at university COVID-19 testing sites and have given thousands of COVID-19 vaccines to Arizonans at various distribution sites around the valley.

“It’s wonderful to be a part of the solution and to feel as though you’re making a difference to assist in any way that you can,” said Salina Bednarek, director of Edson College’s prelicensure programs. “We know the workforce here has been incredibly taxed, and being extra hands for these nurses and for all of our health care partners has been so meaningful. This has been an incredibly rewarding experience for our students.”

It’s also been an enlightening one, particularly for Brooke Taylor. A junior studying nursing at Edson College, Taylor has participated in vaccine distribution as part of her clinical experiences for course credits.

In late February, Taylor and seven other nursing students were at the Dignity Southeast Pod at Chandler-Gilbert Community College doing vaccinations, checking people in and helping in any way they could that day.

“It was great to be there, to interact with the public, to actually put into practice what we’re learning in class and to be able to provide such an important service by giving them the COVID-19 vaccine,” Taylor said. 

Brooke Taylor pictured in her Edson College scrubs

Brooke Taylor, junior nursing student 

During one such experience, Taylor says the day was flowing nicely and after a break for lunch, she was getting ready to return to vaccinating people. That’s when she heard a call for someone who knows American Sign Language. 

“I turned around and could see that people were gesturing in their car, and I could tell they couldn’t hear,” she said.

Taylor didn’t hesitate, “I just signed to them and said, ‘Do you need someone who knows sign language?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah,’ and so I went over and was able to help check them in and I was able to give her the vaccine as well, which was pretty cool.”

Her willingness to immediately step up to help this family did not go unnoticed.

Clinical Instructor Christine Rozsavolgyi, who was overseeing the group of students that day, said watching this in real time filled her with pride. 

“I watched the couple’s faces light up that someone was able to communicate with them who truly cares. It was especially touching because Brooke jumped in without hesitation, whereas some students tend to be shyer. I can honestly say she made a real impact on the patients, and the staff was very impressed as well,” said Rozsavolgyi.

For Taylor, the moment didn’t seem that significant at first. As the child of a deaf adult, she grew up signing. ASL was her first language, so when she saw the couple struggling to communicate she didn’t think twice about trying to help.

“Initially it was just kind of like, whatever, I don’t see what the big deal is. I know ASL and I’m used to translating for my mom, especially in health care situations. So of course I was going to do what I could to help. But then, a few minutes later, I turn around and I’m relying on family members to translate Spanish for me,” she said.

What Taylor recognized after those back-to-back experiences was that even though family members can translate for health care workers, they shouldn’t have to. These quick interactions demonstrated up close the lack of accessibility some families face when seeking care and the need for solutions.

“This is just one example of a barrier to health care for people in terms of communication, and this is only one population and there’s so many out there. So we, as future nurses and health care providers, need to be mindful of that and try to learn together how to approach these kinds of situations,” Taylor said.

She knows there are groups advocating for accessibility across the health care system and is grateful for those efforts, which will help both her mom and her future patients. 

One of the ways Taylor is working toward a solution is to be an even more active ally through deepening her knowledge of the community she will eventually serve.

“Spanish is actually a language I’ve been wanting to learn, so after this experience, I went home and downloaded Duolingo to help me start on that,” she said.

And while she knows becoming trilingual won’t solve everyone’s challenges when it comes to accessing health care, it will improve the quality of care she’ll be able to provide for some and that’s a step in the right direction. 

Amanda Goodman

Senior communications specialist, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation


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Creating a climate for fiction writing

April 20, 2021

ASU initiative will publish its 3rd anthology of climate fiction on Earth Day; international contest received submissions from around the globe

Amanda Baldeneaux is living proof that a writer can create solid work under the most trying of circumstances.

Last spring she penned a powerful short story called “Invasive Species” while pumping milk for her infant daughter in the middle of the night.

“I actually wrote this story around 2 a.m.,” said Baldeneaux, a mother of two who lives in Denver. “If your child sleeps well and you have good inspiration and motivation, you can get some good writing done while pumping.”

Not only was it good writing, but “Invasive Species” netted Baldeneaux $1,000 in contest winnings and a spot in a new digital anthology sponsored by Arizona State University’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative. The initiative is a partnership between the Center for Science and the Imagination and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

Book Cover

"Everything Change, Volume III"

"Everything Change, Volume III," an anthology featuring Baldeneaux and nine finalists from the initiative’s global climate fiction short story contest in 2020, will be released on April 22 to coincide with Earth Day.

Now in its third iteration, the international contest received 580 submissions from 77 different countries. This year’s guidelines asked writers to address how humans can live within Earth’s planetary boundaries at the individual, organizational, communitywide and societal levels.

According to Joey Eschrich, editor and program manager for the Center for Science and the Imagination, these literary works ranged from far-future tales of ambiguous utopian societies, to action-thriller yarns, weird and realistic fiction, fabulism and body horror.

“‘Invasive Species” impressed our judges because of its sharp, vividly drawn main character and its grounded vision of a near-future choked by environmental austerity,” Eschrich said of the 5,000-word short story. “Amanda is also clever and subtle in her use of metaphor and evocative imagery — from natural history museum dioramas frozen in time to towering brown clouds blocking our view of the horizon — to express the malaise and stubborn hope of facing a world in the midst of crisis and slow transformation.” 

Submissions were subject to multiple rounds of blind review by an editorial team that included experts on climate science, sustainability, creative writing and environmental literature, including Claire Vaye Watkins, a former Guggenheim Fellow.

Two other featured stories in "Everything Change, Volume III" are written by people connected to ASU: Jules Hogan, an MFA candidate who edits ASU’s Hayden's Ferry Review, and Kathryn E. Hill, also an MFA graduate.

Baldeneaux said “Invasive Species” is about Viviana, an aspiring interior decorator working as a diorama painter and night nanny to pay for her father’s home-based intensive care. Her life is on pause to support his medical bills, including time off school and her own medical care and transition surgeries. As the city’s transportation systems shut down, Viviana has to navigate across town to reach her second job, finding her own forward momentum in a world stalled by the devastating impacts of climate change.

“I was nervous writing about a trans character because I’m not trans, and I didn’t want to infringe on a story that’s not my own,” said Baldeneaux, who donated a portion of her contest earnings to three organizations who advocate for trans rights and visibility. “But I also think that trans people exist in our world and they should be portrayed in fiction, movies and television series, and included and normalized in our society.”

Baldeneaux said “Invasive Species” was finalized in about three or four sessions and submitted an hour before the deadline. She said much of her writing focuses on climate change and sustainability. A previous short story she wrote on fracking was published in the Missouri Review in 2019.

“I think a lot about climate change and this contest just spoke to me because I had been thinking about the development of ‘Invasive Species’ for a few months,” said Baldeneaux, a poetry major from the University of Arkansas. “The contest was just motivation to put it down in some kind of form.”

More information about ASU Earth Month and a list of activities.

Top photo: An illustration of Amanda Baldeneaux’s “Invasive Species” by artist João Queiroz for "Everything Change, Volume III." This illustration shows the main character, Viviana, traveling on a city bus between jobs. Courtesy of the Center for Science and the Imagination.