Students volunteer at COVID-19 testing sites to help community, meet service requirements

By Daniel Myrick

A student volunteer places a COVID-19 test into a hazardous waste bag at a testing site in the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. This site is part of the university’s Carolina Together initiative, which focuses on stopping the spread of COVID-19s. (Daniel Myrick/Carolina Connection)

The pandemic has taken away volunteer opportunities for students. That can be a serious problem as several degree programs require community service work in order to graduate. However, some students have found new volunteer opportunities related to the pandemic.

Daniel Myrick reports.


DANIEL MYRECK: Students at UNC have become very familiar with the COVID-19 testing sites around campus due to the school’s required testing policy.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Awesome, you’re gonna put your PID and your date of birth on one of those right there-

MYRECK: But, what students may not know about are the different ways that they can get involved with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on campus. Paige Jones, a junior at UNC on a pre-med track, started volunteering at the Carolina testing sites at the beginning of this semester.

PAIGE JONES: I decided to volunteer because I wanted to get involved with the whole COVID-19 effort in some way. 

MYRECK: Since she began working with the COVID-19 Student Service Corps, Jones realized that volunteering may help herself just as much as it helps her community. 

JONES: It’s a way to get involved with a somewhat medical program when everything like, with direct experience is kind of shut down right now. So UNC provided a good opportunity for us to be able to get out there, show our passion for the community, show that we want to fight the pandemic.

MYRECK: Jones has only volunteered at the testing sites around campus, but those are not the only ways that students can get involved. Meg Zomorodi is the director for the Carolina COVID-19 Student Service Corps. Zomorodi explained the different ways in which students can volunteer.

MEG ZOMORODI: We have a variety of in-person as well as virtual opportunities for students to engage. We have virtual opportunities that consist of contact tracing for our students who may have had an exposure, and then, data review.

MYRECK: Zomorodi said that she expected most of the students to volunteer because it was a way for them to replace the different volunteering and shadowing opportunities they would have normally had otherwise. Zomorodi even said that students who volunteer 75 hours receive a certificate that certifies their participation in the corps. But, there is another unexpected reason she has discovered for why students are volunteering.

ZOMORODI: I just talked to a student today in the pit when we were passing out t-shirts, she’s a first year, she really hasn’t had the typical freshman experience. And this has been an opportunity for her to meet people and to be on this campus in a safe way.”

MYRECK: Jones also said that volunteering has been a good way for her to meet people on campus.

JONES:  I’ve done the testing sites exclusively, ‘cause I wanted to be standing up the whole time, and also having contact with other humans, whether it be the other people that are volunteering at the testing sites who I’ve actually become friends with some of them, or just like having the one on one contact with like random strangers.

MYRECK: Jones and Zomorodi both urge anyone who is thinking about volunteering to do so. Even if someone doesn’t need volunteer hours or experience, at the very least they might be able to make a friend in these socially distanced times. In Chapel Hill, I’m Daniel Myrick.

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