STORIES OF COMPASSION, COURAGE, INSIGHT AND RESILIENCE
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community, our country and our world is unprecedented. Over the course of this spring, the University of San Diego community has come together in innovative and inspiring ways to confront this most urgent of challenges. Perhaps not surprisingly, people were eager to help and found ways to make a difference in the midst of uncertainty.
Following are just a few examples of the ways members of the Torero community dug deep and got to work: They manufactured ventilators. They produced much-needed personal protective equipment. They wrote editorials that were cited in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Congress. They came together in song and shared the sound of their voices with the wider world. They volunteered to serve on the frontlines at the pandemic’s epicenter and shared stories of what they witnessed upon their return. They advocated for children. They found ways to join in community prayer.
They inspire us to rise above our fears and be part of the solution.
Bookmark sandiego.edu/torerostogether to follow new stories of compassion, courage, insight and resilience that define the Torero spirit.
The Sound of Hope
When Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering Dean Chell Roberts met with Dean Jane Georges from the Hahn School of Nursing in March, he asked what his school could do to help. She quickly suggested finding a way to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) would be welcomed. Roberts immediately conducted a search and found an article from UCLA detailing specifications for 3D-printed face shield prototypes. He then reached out to his Mechanical Lab Manager, Steve Saxer, PE, knowing the school had the freed-up lab space and equipment, as well as the skeleton staff to produce PPE prototypes. The process was slow to start, initially yielding only six to eight face shield headbands per day. But before long, the whirring of 3D printers graced the silenced hallways with the sound of hope. “We are now trying to run all four 3D printers day and night,” explains Saxer. He also enlisted the help of recently graduated integrated engineering alumnus Michael Korody ‘20 and Chadmond Wu, president of the USD 3D Printing Club, to print face shields using the same specifications from their home 3D printers. “We will keep printing them until there is no more need — or until our printers break down,” says Saxer. Read more.
University Ministry invites members of the community to come together by reading and contributing to an online prayer board. “For the many other unsung heroes: thecashiers, the mailmen, the bank tellers, the grocery store clerks, the pharmacist, the janitors, the subway operators, as well as the nurses, doctors and city and state leaders, whom all show up to work in these times of uncertainty to provide service for others despite the fear of what may come, and especially to my mother, we pray for health and strength,” says one heartfelt contribution. Read more.
In late April, Mortar Board alumnus Jonny Kim ‘12 (BA) made a surprise appearance via Zoom at the 20th celebration of San Diego’s Alcala Chapter of Mortar Board. Kim is a NASA astronaut as well as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He has also been a decorated Navy SEAL and a physician who graduated with a doctorate in medicine from Harvard Medical School. This past January he graduated from NASA’s astronaut candidate training school. One subject he shared with current students, faculty alumni and others was the importance of resiliency and persistence: “I think in order to become the best version of ourselves, we have to fail because we learn from our mistakes. Learn as much as you can from failure.” Read more.
True Thought Leadership
The work of School of Nursing Associate Professor Eileen Fry-Bowers has appeared in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Congress. Her work was cited by Senator Cassidy in a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on the subject of “COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School” on May 12, 2020. Senator Cassidy cited an editorial published by Dr. Fry-Bowers in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing entitled, “Children Are at Risk from COVID-19.” Dean Jane Georges commented, “That our faculty in the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science are producing such important work shaping national policy during this crisis demonstrates our school’s commitment to becoming thought leaders in American nursing.”
Part of the Solution
School of Business alumnus Patricio Keegan ‘18 (MBA) is the global director of marketing at Tecme, a manufacturer of mechanical ventilators used in ICUs, which are currently in high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based in Argentina, Tecme sells its ventilators to more than 55 countries including the United States. Prior to the pandemic, it exported 80 percent of his products. Now, as Argentina is also in quarantine to try and flatten the curve, Tecme is working to fulfill all of its orders at home so it can begin exporting internationally again — especially to the U.S. which currently has the most COVID-19 cases in the world. ”We’ve doubled our production, and we want to do even more,” says Keegan. “We’ve hired people, trained people, expanded our assembly line.” Read more.
Sewing is an act of compassion for Corey Johnston, MFA, an adjunct assistant professor in the University of San Diego Department of Theatre. When the County of San Diego began requiring all public-facing employees to wear masks, Johnston knew he was in a position to help. As the faculty costume supervisor at USD, Johnston not only had the materials he needed but also the equipment required to begin production. With a $1,000 donation from the USD Changemaker Hub to purchase additional supplies, Johnston set to work creating masks. “I knew the theatre program—of all programs on campus—would be uniquely situated to do this. It’s that simple,” says Johnston. “I knew we had some small portion of resources on hand when currently everyone is looking for them, and the only place on campus that has sewing machines. It was the perfect storm of opportunity and responsibility.” Learn more.
A Tuneful Response
USD’s Concert Choir, under the co-direction of Emilie Amrein and Paul Infantino ’07, created a remote recording project of “O Love” by Elaine Hagenberg in mid-April. All 30 students recorded their own voice parts and submitted photos of their memories of USD to sync with the music. For your listening and viewing pleasure, enjoy this recording, which was titled, Live from Our Living Rooms. Listen and watch.
Center of the Storm
Doctor of Nursing Practice student Elena Johns volunteered to spend four weeks at a New York City hospital to help the overwhelmed system handle coronavirus patients. Johns worked as an ICU nurse before deciding to return to school at USD and earn her DNP with a concentration in palliative and end-of-life care. Elena said she chose to go to New York to help patients who are unable to be with their families. She spoke with Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science Dean Jane Georges before heading across the country. In their conversation, she noted, “Having patients die alone has unfortunately been a part of my ICU experience. If I’m the only one that can be there in the room with them, then I absolutely will.” Learn more.
Looking to the Future
Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies Professor Topher McDougal shares his thoughts about the need for inclusive economics in a recent blog post. He writes, “There is a growing worry that the longer the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the more the initially apparent spirit of solidarity and magnanimity will dwindle, giving way to resentment and perhaps even hostility as an historically unequal society’s divisions are made increasingly apparent.” McDougal is quick to note his own relative privilege: “Speaking for myself, I have experienced many silver linings: more time getting to know my kids, less time driving tediously from Point A to B and back again. Meanwhile, many are worrying whether their meager savings and reduced incomes can hold out for longer than the economy must be shuttered.” Read more.
Keeping Kids Safe
Jessica Heldman of USD’s Children’s Advocacy Institute was quoted in the Voice of San Diego in an article about the decrease of child abuse calls to the Child Welfare Services Child Abuse Hotline. While a decrease may seem good, many child advocates are worried it is bad news; mandated reporters of potential abuse, like educators, medical care providers and childcare providers do not have frequent in-person contact with children when schools are closed and shelter-in-place orders are in place. According to the article, the week after schools closed calls to the child abuse hotline plummeted by fifty percent. Calls in April are projected to track even lower. “We actually become more concerned about abuse when we see fewer reports,” said Heldman. “A decrease in the number of calls to hotlines doesn’t mean there is less abuse.” Read more.
University Ministry invites members of the community to come together by reading and contributing to an online prayer board. “For the many other unsung heroes: the cashiers, the mailmen, the bank tellers, the grocery store clerks, the pharmacist, the janitors, the subway operators, as well as the nurses, doctors and city and state leaders, whom all show up to work in these times of uncertainty to provide service for others despite the fear of what may come, and especially to my mother, we pray for health and strength,” says one heartfelt contribution. Read more.
Arts for Your Heart
The university’s Humanity Center has some great ideas for online resources for those who are sheltering in place to keep our minds engaged and spirits high. The list is updated weekly. Some recent suggestions include weekly concerts by the New York Philharmonic, an online exhibition on Monet and the birth of impressionism by Berlin’s Städel Museum, a live cam of the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Australia, virtual tours of 31 national parks and more. Get your culture on.
— Compiled by Julene Snyder