ALBANY, N.Y. – When the Capital Region sought student volunteers to administer the COVID-19 vaccination, Nursing students at Maria College jumped at the opportunity.
“I am beyond proud of our students. Classes hadn’t even started yet for the [spring] semester and they were volunteering beyond any capacity I had anticipated, some driving nearly an hour to start their 5:45am shifts,” said Jessica Napoli, clinical experiences director at Maria College.
Nearly 20 students had volunteered to administer the vaccines over the winter break with that number increasing into the spring semester. Students were stationed at our partner clinical sites all over the Capital Region.
Molly Hay ’21, a senior in Maria’s Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program was one of the student volunteers on the front lines. “It feels liberating to be able to give the vaccine to high-risk populations. If I can do my little part to get us all back to living again, I’ll do that all day,” said Hay.
Another senior Nursing student, Mujtaba Murtuza, ’21, spent many days over the winter break volunteering to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at multiple vaccination sites. “Some people who are receiving the vaccine are a bit nervous, which is totally understandable because it is new science. However, the vast majority do express a sense of relief. Many of the people who I have vaccinated have said they can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Murtuza.
Dr. Dennis McKenna, president and CEO of Albany Medical Center, shared his appreciation of Maria’s Nursing student volunteers with Dr. Thomas J. Gamble, president of Maria College.
“We can only overcome the coronavirus pandemic as a community, and I’m so grateful that Maria College students have answered the call to serve as volunteers,” said Dr. McKenna. “They have been critical to our efforts. Because so many of our own dedicated nurses began their education and training at Maria College, we know well the skill and character learned at this fine institution. These nursing students are leading by example—administering hope to our community in the form of the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine.”
“Mercy-educated students have always responded to the needs of the time. This is deep in our heritage when Sisters of Mercy nursed cholera victims in Dublin, Ireland as well as working with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean war,” said Dr. Gamble. “Our former Board-chair, Sr. Gail Waring, RSM, and our current Board-chair, Dr. Mary Jo LaPosta, are both nurses and I know they are very proud of our Maria students who are our nurses of the future.”
Maria College Nursing students also answered the call from Whitney M Young, Jr. Health to administer the vaccine at Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Arbor Hill. Maria College and Whitney M Young, Jr. Health are dedicated to serving underrepresented populations in the Capital Region.
As Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “I am so proud of the nursing students at Maria College for stepping up at this critical time to ensure some of our most vulnerable residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The sooner we can achieve heard immunity, the sooner we can ease social distancing and mask-wearing restrictions, and Albany’s own is helping to do just that.”
“In a true embodiment of the New York Tough spirit, Maria College nursing students have answered the call to duty, administering hundreds of vaccinations throughout the Capital Region,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “As we continue to battle the COVID-19 at home and across the country, these nursing students are getting shots into the arms of some of the Capital Region’s most vulnerable and essential workers. I commend these students for saving lives and placing themselves on the frontlines of this crisis when they are needed most.”
While the final semester for any Nursing student is typically the busiest, with course content and clinical experiences becoming more nuanced, Maria’s student volunteers will continue to contribute to vaccination efforts across the Capital Region.
“I am delighted by Maria’s students. Their contributions to the fight against COVID-19 are inspiring, potentially life-saving, and I am indebted for their service to the community,” stated Dr. Gamble.
About Maria College. Founded in 1958, Maria College is one of 17 colleges and universities in the United States sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. The private, co-educational, Catholic college in Albany serves approximately 800 students in a variety of bachelor degree, associate degree, a master’s degree, and certificate programs including liberal arts, healthcare management, nursing, psychology, occupational therapy, and health and occupational sciences. mariacollege.edu