Helping spread facts, not fear, about COVID-19 in the New River Valley
The COVID-19 Crushers are a group of Virginia Tech graduate and undergraduate students committed to leading the COVID-19 response efforts in the New River Valley through the distribution of masks, hand sanitizer, and COVID-19 testing and vaccination resources.
COVID-19 Crusher Team
Hi! My name is Rachel Joaquin. I’m a junior at Virginia Tech studying graphic design. I have experience in all kinds of design, including web, app design, social media, print, and packaging. I wanted to join the COVID-19 Crushers as a way to gain experience in my field, as well as to use my skills to help the community in any way possible. These days, I spend most of my time hanging out in my apartment with my cat Fiona, and doing work and school remotely from my computer. In addition to working with the Crushers team, I am also a student mentor, teaching assistant, and head of promotions for the Filipino American Student Association at Virginia Tech. After graduation, I hope to find a job working for a design firm or as an in-house designer at a company.
Hello! My name is Rebecca Pioso. I am a junior at Virginia Tech double majoring in Public Health and Environmental Policy and Planning. After I graduate, I hope to attend law school to pursue a career in either environmental or health related law. I joined Covid Crushers because I want to be able to make a positive impact on the community that I am a part of and gain experience applying what I am learning in the classroom to the real world. In addition to this team, I am also on the committee for The Big Event, a Hokie Ambassador, in the Environmental Student Organization, and involved in my sorority.
Hi! My name is Emily Emerson. I am a second year Masters of Public Health student with focuses in both Infectious Disease and Health Education. I also graduated from Virginia Tech with honors in 2019 with a Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences. My experiences lay mainly in the field of science and medicine. Over the summer I worked in a COVID-19 testing facility working directly with patient samples. This role drove me to join Covid Crushers and help to make more of an impact in the NRV. Additionally, during my undergraduate career I started a club dedicated to spreading awareness of health disparities, specifically medical care access, in Southwest Virginia. Having most of my family residing in Southwest Virginia, this is a deeply rooted passion of mine. To further serve the community, I plan to attend medical school and practice in a rural area upon graduation.
Hey everyone! My name is Eric Ramos and I am a senior at Virginia Tech studying Biological Sciences with a double minor in Public Health and Medicine & Society. I joined Covid Crushers to educate my peers and community on the importance of safe and preventative practices to keep the New River Valley healthy. Along with Covid Crushers, I serve as president of the College of Science Ambassador Team, vice president of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students, and a Hokie Ambassador for Undergraduate admissions. I am also a Covid-19 swabber for Virginia Tech, Biological Seminar Peer Mentor and involved with undergraduate research in HNFE. I hope to matriculate into medical school in the near future and conduct research in population health sciences concentrated in health disparities.
Hi! My name is Lia Dopp and I am a junior with a major in public health with minors in American Indian studies and chemistry. I joined COVID Crushers to make an impact on the community and to reach out to my peers. Both my parents work in the healthcare field so I was able to see the effects of COVID-19 first hand. I have also been fortunate enough to serve as an IMPACT peer educator with Hokie Wellness which has furthered my passion for public health. I am a biology teaching assistant, president of Kappa Alpha Theta, a campus Liaison for the American Public Health Association, the co-founder of APHA at Virginia Tech, and a volunteer with VMRC. After graduation I hope to attend medical school and become a family practice physician with a focus on rural area medicine.
Hello! My name is Areej Khan and I am a senior majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with minors in Public Health and Medicine & Society. I joined COVID Crushers to be able to do the most I can to serve my community during this difficult time. Through my experiences as an EMT with the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad, I have seen firsthand how the pandemic has affected the members of our community. This experience and more have contributed to my passion for medicine and public health, inspiring my interest to pursue medical school upon graduation. After completing my education, I hope to pursue a career in emergency medicine development internationally.
Hi! My name is Marya Hubbard. I am a second year MPH student with concentration in Public Health Education and Infectious Disease. I am from Patrick County, VA. I recently accepted a seat at University of Tennessee nursing school. My ultimate goal is to work in rural communities (here in the US and globally) while utilizing my nursing career and MPH. I was lucky enough to travel to South America twice during my undergraduate studies to see how their health care system compared to the United States, this formed a passion for global work. I graduated from VT in 2019 with my B.S. in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise. I volunteered with MRC throughout the summer with COVID testing and most of this was working with Barbie Zabielski. My time volunteering over the summer and studies ultimately drove me to join the COVID crushers. I enjoy the time educating fellow Hokies and community members, while building my own education on how to educate a community during times like this.
Hey everyone! My name is Emma and I am a sophomore majoring in Dairy Science and Animal/Poultry Science with a minor in Public Health. I’m from Harrisonburg, VA! I joined COVID Crushers because I wanted to play an active role in fighting Covid so that I can make efforts in bettering the health of my loved ones, as well as the members of my community! I love how this program has taught me so much already, which allows me to also educate those around me!
I hope to go to graduate school and then also receive my PhD in animal epidemiology, with a concentration in virology and zoonoses. Growing up on a dairy farm, I’ve always had a passion for agriculture, and I want to someday work towards bettering the health of people and livestock!
Hi everyone! My name is Laura and I am a second year Master of Public Health candidate earning my degree in both Public Health Education and Infectious Disease with a certificate in Geospatial Information Systems. Upon graduation I hope to help create policies to mitigate the effects of neglected diseases on developing countries/communities in hopes to lessen health disparities worldwide.I joined COVID Crushers because I am passionate about educating people and helping the New River Valley mitigate the spread/effects of COVID-19. I am so happy to be a part of the NRV and love that I can give back in this way!
Hello! My name is Kaitlin Phelon and I’m a sophomore at Virginia Tech majoring in Public Health. At the start of the pandemic, I was able to participate in various health programs at a local non-profit in Richmond. After this experience, I wanted to continue serving my community here at school, so I joined Covid Crushers to help educate the Blacksburg area on how to stay safe during this pandemic. I currently work at Virginia Tech in the Student Engagement and Campus Life Office and am a member of the sorority Gamma Phi Beta. After graduation I hope to go to nursing school and pursue a career in healthcare.
Hello! My name is Ashley Murray and I am a junior at Virginia Tech studying Biochemistry with a minor in Strategic Communications and Chemistry. I joined COVID Crushers as a way to combat COVID-19 and help assure the New River Valley that we are doing everything possible to prevent the spread of coronavirus. With everything going on in the world, I knew this was my way to make an impact and help my community. Overall, helping others is my passion, along with spending time with friends and family and listening to new music. During my time here at Virginia Tech I have joined Alpha Sigma Kappa, a female STEM sorority, as well as College Mentors for Kids. Upon graduation I plan on attending graduate school to pursue a career in medicine.
Hi! My name is Jackie Abramson and I am a second year Master of Public Health candidate with a concentration in both Public Health Education and Infectious Diseases. I received my Bachelors of Science here at Virginia Tech studying Animal and Poultry Science. Over the summer, as an intern at New River Health District, I conducted COVID-19 testing and assisted with contact tracing and results notification. I helped to identify asymptomatic cases and assisted with data entry into the health department’s database. I also supplied COVID-19 testing and education, as well as distributed hygiene and personal protective equipment, to people who use drugs and staff in long-term care facilities. I now work as a case investigator for the health department. My career goals are to address health disparities in at-risk populations and infection control and prevention through community outreach. Overall, this pandemic has shown me the resiliency of our community, which is why I wanted to help with COVID Crushers and promote the “Be Committed, Be Well” campaign!
Hello! My name is Morgan Patrick and I am a 2020 graduate from Emory University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and a Minor in Music. Currently, I am a staff member participating in a post-baccalaureate program at Virginia Tech sponsored by the National Institute of Health. As a teaching staff, my research study is a part of the Robel Lab in Roanoke which focuses on Traumatic Brain Injuries and Astrocytes. I wanted to participate in COVID Crushers because I support the mission statement of educating the public about COVID-19 and providing personal protective equipment to the community. Providing people, in my community, with this support and education aids in promoting and improving the quality of life of that individual, and by doing so, it, directly and indirectly, affects the people around that individual. My future goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience with a focus on Neurotrauma Research. Outside of academia and volunteering, my hobbies include playing and composing music, working out, reading books, traveling, hiking, and watching movies.
Hello! My name is Alexandra Pinkham, and I am a freshman majoring in Microbiology. I hope to add a minor in Public health and ultimately participate in the Accelerated Undergraduate/ Master’s in Public Health program. I have moved over eight times throughout my life, and I lived in Germany for seven years! In Germany, I joined a health science program centered around patient care where I completed a 40-hour clinical rotation. As a result, I am certified as a Nursing Assistant and a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant. Before attending Virginia Tech, I volunteered at my local hospital and was directly involved with patient needs. I decided to join the COVID Crushers because of my growing interest in public health and my passion to serve my new community. I also have at-risk family members and wish to spread knowledge about the importance of wearing masks and following health guidelines. This year, I am a member of the Virginia Tech Club Tennis Team, the Public Health Association, and the Microbiology Club. In my free time, I can be found on the tennis courts or with my family and friends. My career goals include infectious disease prevention and control in underserved populations.
Hello! My name is Anna Murphy and I am a senior studying Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise with a minor in Public Health. This past semester I worked as an operations intern for a labor union that sought to help workers in the emergency medical services field. After understanding a bit more about the importance of gathering and disseminating factual based evidence, I knew I wanted to return to Tech and get involved in the public health field. I became a certified Emergency Medical Technician, but knew I wanted to become more immersed in the local community from a public health perspective. COVID Crushers stood out to me because of their broad spectrum of initiatives they have implemented in the greater Blacksburg area, as well as their continual adaptations to the changing landscape of the pandemic we are facing. After graduation I am hoping to attend nursing school, and eventually move on to receive my Doctorate of Nursing practice.
Hello! My name is Teagan Neveldine and I am a second year Master of Public Health candidate with a concentration in Public Health Education. I received my Bachelors of Science here at Virginia Tech studying Human Nutrition Foods & Exercise and Psychology. I work with Hokie Wellness and have been serving as a peer educator on the Health Education & Awareness Team for over three years facilitating health workshops for students. I especially enjoy creating and organizing outreach events across campus and being a member of the Social Media Committee working to develop health messaging targeted to students. Along with this, I began serving as the Social & Service Chair for the Public Health Association this year where I coordinate social, service and skills meetings for our members. I’m happy to have the opportunity to apply my experience and knowledge as a health educator and have loved being on the COVID Crushers team. Weekend night outreaches are the highlight of my week!
Hi everyone! My name is Kelly Ribeiro and I am a freshman majoring in Public Health and minoring in Integrative Health & Wellness. I decided to pursue a Public Health degree because I would like to eventually find a career in epidemiology, specifically supporting international zoonotic disease programs. I’ve always been interested in making a difference, while enjoying working with different people & cultures. I’m also very passionate about the environment & wildlife conservation and I really like the multi-sectoral approach that One Health introduces. Before coming to college, I did a summer research internship with Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science & Security, where I got to learn about outstanding women in global health. I’ve also been very involved in environmental advocacy in my high school and local community. I’m excited to be a part of the COVID Crushers because I really enjoy community outreach & health education. In addition to being a COVID Crusher, I’m also a member of COVID Companions, Public Health Association, and the Active Minds chapter at Virginia Tech.
Hello everyone! My name is Lauren Blackwell and I am a second year Master of Public Health student concentrating in Infectious Diseases. Before obtaining my masters here at Virginia Tech, I received my bachelors degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. I earned my B.S. in Laboratory Animal Science where I was able to be a part of an Immunology lab to work with early weaned piglets and segmented filamentous bacteria, which had a OneHealth focus which is where I was introduced to public health topics. At NCA&T, I became involved on campus in many organizations that gave back to the community such as thanksgiving drives, backpack events for children, and taking meals to the homeless. So this fall at Virginia Tech, I wanted to be involved in organizations that make a difference including COVID-Crushers. Over the summer, I interned with the Biostatistic center at Virginia Tech where we focused on the effects of mobility in socioeconomic groups, GOP categories, household income and more while comparing due to COVID-19. I am able to be a part of the Public Health Association and the Diversity and Inclusion committee as well. I love helping and giving back to the community. I have also been able to bond with my colleagues in the MPH program, which has been great! It has been a great experience so far to help people within the community by providing them with information about COVID-19.
Hi everyone! My name is Fernanda Gutierrez Matos. I am a second year Master of Public Health in the Health Education and Infectious Disease concentration. Before moving to Blacksburg, I used to live in Canada, where I completed an Honours Bachelors of Science at the University of Toronto. I currently have an assistantship at the Language and Culture Institute, where I support Virginia Tech’s global initiatives and strategic partnerships. Over the summer, I had a Graduate Fellowship at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, where I assisted the New River Valley Public Health Task Force with COVID-19 messaging. I also volunteered as a bilingual case investigator/ contact tracer with the Medical Reserve Corps. My experience over the summer made me wanna give back more to my community and provide reliable information about COVID-19 to ultimately help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our area. Being a COVID-19 Crusher has been a great experience and I am grateful to work with the amazing COVID-19 Crushers!
Hello! My name is Abigail Dunahoo, and I am a junior Public Health major. At the beginning of COVID-19 lockdown, I joined the Medical Reserve Corp to help my hometown community in their pandemic response. I volunteered as a contact tracer, which turned into being hired as full-time case investigator for the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District. I have been serving in this role since May and am still able to do it remotely from Blacksburg. I was very excited to join COVID Crushers, so that I could serve my community down here at Tech and Blacksburg. I have really enjoyed being able to help out in smaller, rural communities throughout the area, like Dublin and Pearisburg (where my great-grandmother lives and my family is from!). It makes my heart happy to be able to connect to the community and other VT students in a meaningful way during this time of social isolation. I am also involved in a pre-health fraternity and a campus ministry on campus and volunteer as a youth soccer coach in Christiansburg every season. After graduating from Tech, I plan on pursuing a MPH and potentially a PhD or DrPH. I would love to work as an epidemiologist and am very interested in social determinants of health and environmental justice.
Hi! My name is Kayla Vaught. I am a sophomore majoring in Public Health with a minor in Leadership for Social Change. My passions lie in global health and social justice related to health disparities. On campus, I am a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Red Cross Club, and the Public Health Association. In the future, I hope to have a career in healthcare and health promotion. I was excited to join COVID Crushers to serve as a health educator and keep Blacksburg healthy!
Hi! My name is Sarah Crimmins. I am a junior studying Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Tech. I joined Covid Crushers to get out in the New River Valley community to educate other people and myself about how to stop the spread of the pandemic. I have enjoyed getting to give back to the community that supports Virginia Tech students. During my time at Virginia Tech, I have mentored with the Center of Engineering Diversity (CEED), joined a stem sorority, Alpha Omega Epsilon, and worked as an undergraduate researcher. After graduation, I plan to gain more experience in biomechanics in either prosthetics or sports injuries to help more people throughout various communities.