Student Support Team Continues Behind the Scenes to Keep Campus Safe
ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 9, 2021) – Though many aspects of campus life this semester have resumed a sense of normalcy, one thing remains unchanged from the height of the pandemic: There is a cohort of students eager to go above and beyond to help keep campus safe.
The Student Support Team (SST), launched in the fall of 2020 through a partnership between the National Center for Security & Preparedness, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC), the School of Public Health (SPH), and School of Social Welfare; is an interdisciplinary group of students working as part of the University’s Incident Management Team. The highly trained group’s main priority is reaching out to those whose surveillance testing sample was identified as positive for COVID-19, individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, or those who have been exposed to someone who tested positive. The SST walks individuals through next steps, and reaches out daily to students in the midst of their mandated quarantine or isolation period for wellness check-ups.
The group of nine this year is comprised of students attending SPH and CEHC. Some of the undergraduate team members are
- Hamidat Adeyi, a senior at SPH who has worked at the American Red Cross and Albany Medical Center, has served in multiple peer-to-peer roles on campus in addition to the SST including Orientation & Transitions, Intercultural Student Engagement, the Educational Opportunity Program’s Tutorial Office, the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program and Project Inspire. “I really wanted to lend a hand during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I thought this would be a great way to do so,” said Adeyi. “I enjoy talking to students and assisting them to the best of my ability.”
- Tanesha Brewster, a senior at SPH, worked as an emergency medical technician in New York City for more than 23 years and transferred to UAlbany from SUNY Orange County Community College. Brewster also worked as a COVID-19 vaccinator, and said a fun fact about her is that she’s fascinated by space – if she wasn’t in public health, she’d be in astrophysics. She enjoys the teamwork aspect of the SST, saying “my favorite part about working with the team is the collaboration and the input from everyone. Everyone plays a vital role in the team and is able to express their ideas and opinions.”
- Sphurthy Kota is a senior at CEHC, double majoring in biology and informatics. Originally hailing from India, Kota is a veteran on the SST and has worked with the group for multiple semesters, in addition to working at SPH’s Cancer Research Center. “I wanted to combine my interests in both patient care and technology to help people during the pandemic. I enjoy getting to interact with students and help them during their quarantine and isolation and hopefully, make their quarantine period less lonely and frightful.”
- Irene Kyei, a junior at SPH, transferred from Borough of Manhattan Community College and previously worked as a medical assistant at NYU Langone medical center, work that included conducting COVID-19 screenings. Kyei became ill with COVID-19 during the early days of the pandemic and credits the experience with encouraging her to join the SST to help others in a similar situation. “Having had COVID-19 when it started in 2020 gave me first-hand experience of what it feels like to be infected and be a student at the same time. Sometimes all you want to do is to talk to someone who will just listen to your tantrums. I wanted to be that someone that any student can talk to in their situation with COVID. In addition, I was motivated to join the team to gain experience in public health and disease prevention.”
- Omar Mohammed emigrated to the U.S. from Iraq, worked as an IT manager for several years in Jordan, completed a BS in Human Biology at UAlbany in 2014 and is now a pursuing a second undergraduate degree in cybersecurity at CEHC. He works overnights at Regeneron as an associate biotech production specialist and said he joined the SST to help improve his communication skills, improve data collection/management and help his fellow students at the same time. “My favorite part of being on the SST is the teamwork, and the idea about how we can support and provide help to our community.”
- Evelyne Nehama, a senior with a double major in public health and emergency preparedness, homeland security and cybersecurity, works for the University’s COVID-19 hotline and as a tutor in addition to the SST. She’s been passionate about public health and has wanted to help others, even while she was recovering from a major jaw surgery during the pandemic. “I have always been passionate about public health, since I was first heavily exposed to it in the summer of my junior year in high school and ever since the pandemic started, I have been wanting to put my knowledge to use and help my community. The Student Support Team seemed like the perfect opportunity.”