Alumni on the Frontlines

by | May 28, 2020 | Alumni Matters.

Cardinals are offering essential services to their communities during the pandemic.

When Otterbein alumni graduate, they go into their communities inspired to make a difference. Today, alumni across the country are contributing to the fight against the coronavirus in many ways. From the healthcare providers, researchers or first responders who are working to overcome the virus to the teachers who are educating our children during the most difficult circumstances — and everything in between. Their service to the greater good is needed and appreciated now more than ever.

Drawing with Mr. J

When Jonathan Juravich ’05 was named Ohio Teacher of the Year in 2018, his passion for art education found a wider audience. Now his online series, “Drawing with Mr. J” is reaching out to students wherever they are during this health crisis, engaging them in short, themed drawing challenges to promote social and emotional skills.
“A year ago, we started work on a concept that would invite children to explore and discuss their feelings through silly drawing prompts. When the series was rolled out this winter, we had no idea that it would be so timely,” Juravich said. “There are currently only six episodes, but those episodes have hopefully prompted some important conversations between parents and their kids, and ome great drawing fun. We are all experiencing a vast array of emotions right now, and how we feel changes constantly. But, how do we begin to have a conversation unless we know how to identify and describe our feelings? That is what I hope we are doing, playing a small part in this moment.”

Check out his videos at www.wosu.org/mrj.

Covering the Crisis

A new program hit TVs in Ohio in March, and quickly became so popular it is the subject of international news articles, memes, t-shirts and even a song or two. That program is Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s daily coronavirus briefings, live every weekday at 2 p.m. Three Otterbein alumni have been actively involved in the program — Statehouse News Bureau Chief Karen Kasler ’89 and Statehouse News Reporter Andy Chow ’08 are on Ohio’s PBS and NPR stations every day with live coverage of the briefings; and Megan Wycuff ’11 is deputy director for The Ohio Channel, the broadcasting arm of Statehouse News, which airs the daily briefing.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most important tools people can have is information,” Chow said. “We believe that the coverage we’re providing for Ohio’s NPR and PBS stations has played a vital role in bringing that information to people around the state. Although covering the coronavirus can be somber and turbulent, it’s been a privilege to sit alongside Karen and carry out this important work.”

Find more information at The Ohio Channel.

Pictured (left to right) is Andy Chow, Megan Wycuff, and Karen Kasler in the studio of The Ohio Channel at the Ohio Statehouse.

Saluting Our Healthcare Professionals and First Responders

From nurses like Sophie Allen Wei ’19, who is caring for COVID-19 patients at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, NY, to researchers like Sophie’s husband, Derek Wei ’19, a grad student at Cornell testing antiviral drugs against the virus, Otterbein alumni are making a difference in the lives of people directly impacted by the virus.

“Amidst the fear and uncertainty of these times, I have found purpose in knowing that my ability to care for COVID-19 positive patients in my community goes far beyond providing medical care,” said Sophie. “These patients, among thousands of others across our nation, are separated from their families for multiple weeks and, in some cases, months. In my position, I have the opportunity and responsibility to update my patients’ loved ones as they fight this virus and communicate messages of hope and love.”

“Spending the last two months working in a lab focused on SARS-CoV-2 has shown me the enormous efforts many people are making during this time. Researchers across the nation and world are coming together to share knowledge to combat this pandemic. While there is still much work to be done, it is encouraging to see the strides that have been made in understanding this virus and disease. I am blessed to have had the privilege of working among such great minds,” said Derek.

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