Cardinal Health Ambassador Marie Fitzpatrick hands out raffle tickets to students she encounters who are practicing COVID-19 safety guidelines.
A team of Catholic University students is working to set good examples when it comes to pandemic health precautions. The students are part of the Cardinal Health Ambassador program, an initiative that began last semester to encourage students to follow social distancing and masking guidelines.
Steve Kreider, director of campus activities, said the program was started as a way to “promote healthy decision making and good behavior on campus.”
“The idea is to have a presence of peers who can lead others and model good behavior when it comes to wearing face coverings, washing hands, and practicing physical distancing,” he said.
As part of the program, student ambassadors are organized into pairs. During two-hour shifts, they will provide gratitude and encouragement for students they encounter who are socially distancing effectively, while offering words of advice or education for students who are gathered too closely or not wearing masks.
The ambassadors’ role, Kreider said, is not to punish bad behavior or get people in trouble, but rather to encourage behavioral changes in their peers through positive reinforcement and peer-to-peer education.
Freshman Phoebe Farris joined the health ambassador program in the fall as a way to meet new people while making a difference during the pandemic. A nursing major, Farris previously served as president of her high school’s Stand Up to Cancer organization.
“I thought it would be cool to continue to do community outreach in college,” she said. “My mom is a nurse, my aunt is a nurse, and we’re all dealing with the effects of COVID in our own way. This felt like, if there is a way I can help out, this is it.”
Farris believes it’s important for Catholic University students to practice safety guidelines not just for their own health, but also to protect the local community.
“After our quarantine last semester, everyone was eager to get out and explore other parts of the city,” she said. “It’s important for us to stay safe on our own campus so that when we go out, we can keep the D.C. community safe as well.”
Sophomore Marie Fitzpatrick, an entrepreneurship major, said she got involved in the program because of her fond memories and past experiences on campus.
“When I came back here in the fall, I would walk around campus and no one would be here. It was a sad thing to see,” she said. “I want Catholic University to go back to what it was. If I can do something as simple as working a few hours a week to get people to wear masks and that will help get people back to campus, that’s enough for me.”
Junior Natalie Bauman also joined the program because of her love for CatholicU.
“I know that keeping the community safe and healthy is necessary for us to make it through this difficult time,” she said. “I think having this position be peer-to-peer is so important for creating community trust and avoiding an unnecessary power complex. It has been great to become friends with my fellow ambassadors and to be part of something that can lift up the community.”