A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Eastern Washington University students continue to show they are Eagle Strong by supporting the ongoing and ever changing public health efforts. EWU ROTC nursing cadets are taking action to help our region recover by administering vaccines to educators and volunteering at vaccine sites.

Megan Baker administers the COVID-19 vaccine at the Summit Cancer Center vaccination clinic in Spokane.

Two cadets in particular have been busy getting the vaccine out to the community: Megan Baker and Samantha Knight are both seniors working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing. Both cadets decided to attend Eastern because of the school size, the ROTC program and a closer connection with faculty and staff.

“Eastern does a great job of creating a homey environment that is conducive to not only learning but socializing and immersing yourself with other cultures,” says Knight. “To top it off, the faculty is really easy to work with.”

Knight also says she appreciates the flexibility of the ROTC program because it allows for duality in completing her nursing degree and enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserve. Baker also chose Eastern over other schools because of the ROTC program.

“The recruiter contacted me and was willing to take the time, sit down and discuss my option, and explain the process of going through regular college classes, nursing school, and ROTC,” explains Baker. “He was able to answer all the questions that I had and the questions that my parents had. He set up time for me to visit with other ROTC and nursing students to get their perspective on the program and an inside view of what to expect.”

With just months remaining before graduation, the cadets are now fulfilling a very important role in our community. Both women say they are extremely grateful for the opportunity to help administer COVID-19 vaccinations. Not only does this give them valuable, hands-on experience, but they say it gives them much joy to see the difference they are making.

“So many of the people I have personally vaccinated are happy that there is hope in the foreseeable future in regard to getting back to pre-pandemic life. They have all been very grateful,” says Knight. “So many people have been negatively affected by the virus and this vaccine will likely give us a chance at getting back to the things we miss doing.”

Samantha Knight administers the COVID-19 vaccine to an educator at Mead High School.

One of Baker’s favorite moments so far involves a man who got on the schedule last minute. She says he was so grateful and excited, he asked for a picture to share and remember the milestone.

“This was a memorable experience, and I’m grateful that I was there to be a part of it while also making this a positive experience for this gentleman,” Baker adds. “I was able to make his day, and his enthusiasm and demeanor made my day.”

These cadets and many others are thankful to be able to help with the vaccination effort. Baker and Knight know the experience will be valuable as they prepare to enter the nursing profession.

“As a nurse we have to care for those who are often in a vulnerable position in relation to health,” says Knight. “It is extremely important to make people feel comfortable and safe in these situations and the best way to do that is through interaction and establishing rapport.”

Knight also hopes the community continues to seek education on COVID-19 and more specially vaccines. The vaccination effort is an important step to getting life back to normal. Please use the links below to find reliable sources to get information and make informed decisions so that these cadets can continue to make an impact.