June 7, 2021
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Huntingdon Students Roll-up their Sleeves
Montgomery, Ala.— “I was most definitely hesitant to get the vaccine,” says Abrianna “AB” Davis ’23, of Calera, Alabama. “I changed my mind because my Grams went and got hers. She had no [side effects]. I wanted to protect her and others. I thought about how I could play basketball in the gym with my friends. I thought about going to concerts and other things like that. I want to get those things back.”
Temple Prewitt ’21 of Montgomery also looked to life normalcy and to the well-being of her grandparents when making the decision to be vaccinated. “I have grandparents in their 90s and they’ve had their vaccines. I wanted to be able to be around them and not risk giving it to them. I also wanted to be able to travel.”
During 2020 and 2021, the threat of COVID-19 has meant vastly different college life across campuses worldwide. The disease caused by SARS-COV-2, the novel coronavirus, caused more than a hundred Huntingdon students to be quarantined during 2020-2021; forced a nearly impossible workload on faculty, who taught both virtually and in-person; shut down all but limited athletic competition and practices; constructed literal and actual barriers between students and faculty or students and their peers through masking, social distancing, plexiglass walls, visitor restrictions, and stringent protocols; significantly curbed student gatherings, especially indoors; and left many traditions and student events as just placeholders on calendars, with no memories to match. Although Huntingdon successfully navigated a relatively safe in-person experience for the 2020–2021 academic year, college life was anything but normal.
Wallace Henry ’21 of Deatsville, Ala., was among the first students on campus to be vaccinated. “I worked in a hospital during the summer and fall of 2020, so when the vaccine came out, I was offered a dose to help keep the spread of the virus to a minimum between patients. I also took it because I didn’t want to enhance the chance of my family contracting the virus from me when I came home from work.” Unlike most students, Wallace was not hesitant about rolling up his sleeve. “I mainly worked in the ICUs during COVID, so I was around [COVID-19] every day. I would come home to my brother, who has respiratory issues, and have to shower before seeing him. I got the vaccine to help keep my house safer for him.”
Vaccine side effects, for most students, have been minimal beyond a sore arm and a feeling of fatigue for a short period of time. “I would rather feel terrible for 24–48 hours than for multiple weeks or months,” says Wallace.
“I had a relatively painless vaccine experience thanks to campus faculty being very supportive and understanding even when I had to Zoom into a few classes while recovering from my second dose,” says Jayden Quire ’24, of Enterprise, Ala. Personally, I felt the need to get the vaccine to protect my family—and more specifically my mom—who is considered very high risk.”
“I wanted to get vaccinated because I wanted to slow the spread and to lower the chance of becoming infected,” says Vivian Scott ’23 of Peachtree City, Ga. “The procedure was extremely simple, the same as any other shot.”
Colby Hutson ’22 of Cullman, Ala., serves as an Emergency Medicine Scribe during summer and winter breaks and, like Wallace, was offered the chance to be vaccinated early. “As a front-line healthcare worker, I have been exposed to the virus more than most. Even with great caution, I was still afraid that I would accidentally bring home the virus and infect my family and loved ones. This was probably the biggest driving factor in my decision [to get the vaccine]. Sadly, I know quite a few individuals who have either lost their lives or have been permanently affected by COVID-19. I believe that choosing to be vaccinated will help us all get back to living normal lives and that playing an active role in that can be gratifying.”
For many students, getting the vaccine was as easy as walking into their neighborhood pharmacy. “It was very hopeful for me,” says Katy Pass ’22, of Prattville, Ala. “Everyone involved was so helpful and nice. I got it to protect my siblings and people like them who are unable to protect themselves.”
“I have two grandmothers … and I didn’t want to go out and expose them,” says Candace Carnegie ’21, of Montgomery, who joined the Office of Admission as an admission counselor this month. I have asthma and am prone to getting COVID-19 so I [was vaccinated] for my family and for myself. It was just very important that I kept my family safe. I always tell people to do what they feel is best, but I encourage others to get it if they have family members who are older. I wouldn’t want anyone to get sick from COVID. My boyfriend’s uncle died of COVID.”
Travel plans and family relationships influenced Ashley Burke ’22 of Morgan Hill, Calif., to get her shot, as well. “I wanted to visit family, such as my grandma in the assisted living home, with less fear that I would be the reason she got sick. [Now] we are both fully vaccinated. I also got the vaccine to protect my family members at home who are immunocompromised.”
Reese Owen ’24 of Wetumpka, Ala., signed up at her local CVS and has completed both shots in her vaccination sequence. “I chose to get the vaccine to help the country get back to ‘normal,’” says Reese. “I believe in science, and I believe in vaccines. I care about the community I’m in and the people I surround myself with. As a healthy college student, who better to get a vaccine?” She, too, was not hesitant to get the vaccine. “I was very eager to get vaccinated when the possibility opened up to people ages 18 and older. I trust the research and hard work that were put into making these vaccines. Vaccines work. While it is scary dealing with a new virus, research on coronaviruses is not new. Researchers across the globe collaborated in record time to share their coronavirus data with other scientists in order to make these vaccines.”
Knowledge of science and scientific methods also gave peace to Chris Mayer ’22 of Burlington, Vt., when he made the decision to be vaccinated. “I was hesitant, at first, but I changed my mind due to more research coming out; other people I know getting vaccinated; and the knowledge that SARS-CoV-1 had already been in America in 2003. Scientists were able to do some research but [the contagion] died out before a vaccination was created. This meant that when SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) began, we already had research that provided the groundwork for the vaccinations.”
Chris works a great deal with political campaigns, which requires the organization of large events. “I chose to get the vaccine because I wanted to help protect those around me as well as myself. I meet a lot of people, older and my age, and you never know where people have been or how cautious they have been. Getting the vaccine was a way that I could possibly help those around me. “
Nevaeh McIntyre ’24 of Pelham, Ala., says she changed her mind about getting the vaccine after talking with her mom. “The vaccine offers many benefits. I am a stickler about mask wearing (wearing it correctly) so if I’m able to not wear it that was a benefit along with many others, like seeing my grandparents for the first time since the pandemic arose. [Getting the vaccine] is one step closer to getting our lives back to normal.”
Damien Madison ’22 of Montgomery also consulted his parents. “I knew my parents wouldn’t lead me the wrong way. Also, just seeing what [becoming vaccinated] could do to my community made the decision easier. Being vaccinated can allow us to slowly put our masks away and have quality fun again!”
In the end, says AB Davis, although each student has to make the right decision for him- or herself, the decision affects the Huntingdon community as a whole. “I would tell everyone who isn’t vaccinated, think about all the people you’d be protecting. Think about all the fun you’ll be able to have again with no limits. Think about no mask, Zoom, social distancing, Honorlock. Think about all the things that you love that COVID took away from you. Think about all the things you want back that COVID has temporarily taken from you. Go get vaccinated so you can get all those things back.”
Huntingdon College continues a legacy of faith, wisdom, and service through a liberal arts academic tradition grounded in the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United Methodist Church.