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NYU Steinhardt Community Members Respond to COVID-19


Over the next few weeks, we'll be honoring members of the NYU Steinhardt community who are dedicating themselves to others in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Andy Chu (Nutrition and Dietetics MS '10)

Andy is currently working in NYU Langone Health's COVID intensive care unit providing medical nutrition therapy to patients. He has worked at the hospital since completing his dietetic internship there as a graduate student.

Andy Chu holding a tray of hospital food in front of a medical curtain with a geometric pattern on it.

Even the sickest patient needs nourishment. As a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) on the front line, I provide enteral nutrition support through a feeding tube to patients who require specialized therapy such as a ventilator in the COVID ICU to accelerate their recovery. It is an unprecedented and heartbreaking situation, but I have been training for my entire career to prepare for this. The worst pandemic this generation has ever seen has elevated the mission of my colleagues and me to provide the best care possible to help our patients recover.

Anne Caverly (Communicative Sciences and Disorders MS '19)

Anne is currently working as a speech-language pathologist at a skilled nursing facility in Maryland. She recently ran a campaign requesting letters, artwork, or funny animal photos from her neighbors and social media network to give to patients and received over 400 responses to print and distribute to help ease feelings of loneliness.

Anne Caverly wearing a face mask and shield.

With our facility locked down to visitors, per CMS guidelines, I know that I am one of the only friendly faces my patients see each day. I am there to provide my skilled services with a brave face, ease my patients’ fears, and to provide as much comfort as I can in these uncertain times. My husband and I have been in self-isolation for over a month to protect my family, ourselves, and my patients. My job is to be the best speech-language pathologist, human being, and friend to my patients each and every day.

Michelle Humphrey (Music and Performing Arts Professions Costume Shop Supervisor)

Michelle is collaborating with Costume Shop Technician Madison Coe (a Steinhardt student and alum) and Seamstress Hally Smith (a Tisch alum) to sew face masks for their local grocery store clerks, pharmacy workers, elderly neighbors, and others who need them most. She also recently signed on with Sew the Curve Flat to assist hospitals with their supplies of face masks and gowns.

Michelle wearing a purple mask and an NYU sweatshirt

I saw a need when hospitals started saying there were not enough masks for them to treat patients. When NYU first announced remote work, I had myself, Madison, and Hally take home supplies to continue to work from home. We are very glad we did. We have things that help produce masks quickly like fabric scissors and tape measures. So far, we’ve each made about 25-50 masks using our own materials. We are hoping to receive more supplies so that we can produce 100 a week. We have had such a great response from everyone – people are asking how to make their own and how they can help. 

Danielle Butin (Occupational Therapy BS '95)

Danielle is the Founder and Executive Director of the Afya Foundation, a national medical supply recovery organization. Afya improves global health by rescuing surplus medical supplies and delivering them to underserved health systems around the world.

Danielle Butin seated

Afya is working with large, underfunded outpatient centers to get them essential supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), for healthcare professionals. We have already delivered thousands of pounds of supplies to Hudson River Health in Peekskill and United Harlem in NYC. Afya is also supporting local community agencies (residential facilities, Meals on Wheels, and more) and diverting large shipments from manufacturers and resellers straight out to major hospital partners’ loading docks.

Lianne Davidoff (Educational Theatre BS '23) and Tyler Orbin (Educational Theatre BS '22)

Current NYU Steinhardt students Lianne Davidoff and Tyler Orbin, along with NYU Liberal Studies student Tony Kopatsis, brought members of the NYU community together via video message to show their gratitude for essential workers.

Lianne Davidson

Due to the constant news reports and statistics of the hardship our community's home (NYC) is facing, Tyler and I wanted to give back and show our gratitude for everyone doing their part in this time of crisis and need.

Tyler Orbin

Lianne and I put together this video because we saw it as a way for so many people to share their appreciation for those that are helping to ease the many difficulties caused by COVID-19. We hoped that spreading this type of positivity and gratitude could do at least a small part in brightening in the scary time we’re all living in.

Rachel Kuo (Media, Culture, and Communication PhD Candidate)

Rachel is a co-founder of the Asian American Feminist Collective, which recently published a zine called "Asian American Feminist Antibodies." The zine explores how the pandemic is specifically impacting the Asian-American community. You can read more about Rachel's activism, research, and perspective on COVID-19 rhetoric in a Q&A entitled "Making Asian American Feminist Politics," which is published on the Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC) at New York University's blog.

Rachel Kuo

The zine was a way for us to directly respond to a viral outbreak racialized as Asian by connecting first-hand accounts of racism to social movement organizing the midst of the pandemic and longer-term movement visions for the future. The rhetoric around ‘Asian-ness’ as contagion has been a huge part of the media and information environment surrounding COVID-19, and we were noticing our friends and communities sharing stories of how anti-Asian sentiment was impacting them in their day-to-day experiences and in material ways.

Mia de Bethune (Art Therapy Internship Coordinator)

At the start of the pandemic, art therapy students were forced to leave their vulnerable clients and felt worried about the future. To ease anxiety and help those in need, Mia brought these students together with others in the Steinhardt community and her own therapy communities to form “The Hudson Valley/NY Makers and Creators of PPE,” which has been making face masks, face shields, and scrubs for medical institutions across America.

Mia sitting behind a sewing machine.

I started asking various agencies and hospitals where I have contacts if they wanted face masks and the demand was immediate and overwhelming. Elmhurst Psychiatric contacted me because their recreation and art therapy staff were working with COVID-19 patients, but were not given full we made them masks, shields, and full hospital scrubs out of old sheets. I call it the ‘Sheets to Scrubs’ program and it felt like a Project Runway moment. We have also set our sights on helping the food supply workers who work on upstate farms and on prison populations where people can’t social distance. Just this week we have 600-800 new orders to fill and the sewing machines are busy. We will keep at it until we aren’t needed anymore, which will be a happy day.

Carolyn Sorkin (Internation Education PhD '02)

Carolyn Sorkin is an educational consultant, working with both US and international students applying to college, graduate/professional school, and jobs. Carolyn has been supporting those affected by COVID-19 on multiple fronts: translating public service announcements into Spanish for a public health foundation based in New Haven, CT, making calls to elderly members in her community to offer virtual companionship, providing free virtual presentations on how the coronavirus is affecting the college application process, delivering Tylenol and groceries to those who can’t go to the supermarket on their own, and supporting get-out-the-vote drives. 

Carolyn standing next to a colorful sign that reads "THANK YOU health care and essential workers"

I’ve been modeling for my kids what it means to be a team player and take on civic responsibility. Some actions require very little thought or effort: my daughter and I made a big front-door sign to thank essential workers, and I taped a teddy bear to my window for local kids to find when they go on a ‘bear hunt’ during neighborhood walks. Others require a little more time. At a professional level, I have seen a major uptick in anxiety among students and families. In an attempt to tamp down that anxiety, I have begun offering free online presentations to the general public on topics like how COVID-19 will change the college application review process.

Jayanthi Moorthy (Art, Education, and Community Practice MA '19)

Jayanthi is the creator of the Facebook group called "Window of appreciation for healthcare workers" that encourages individuals to show appreciation for healthcare workers by making window art. Further inspired to help adults and children find creative inspiration in quarantine, Jayanthi also produced the YouTube series "Creativity Under Constraints."

A screenshot from Jayanthi's YouTube series on creativity under constraints. She sits in front of a table with organized art supplies on top.

As a visual artist who also loves working on social projects, I thought it was important to show appreciation by making some art dedicated to healthcare workers. I believe that constraints make us super creative by helping us dedicate our mental energies in finding new ways to do old things. In the current world where there is so much unpredictability....we need to be super creative and innovative to survive. I created a series of online art workshops to help adults and kids find creative inspirations in simple materials in and around them and in the process find their own creative expression.

Bernadette Lora (Communicative Sciences and Disorders MS Student)

During a clinical immersion, Bernadette's professor Dr. Kelly Bridges asked everyone was how they were dealing with isolation and working from home in the face of COVID-19. When it came time for Bernadette to answer, her response inspired the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders to set up a PPE donation exchange in their community. Bernadette has since received a shipment of homemade masks from a peer.

Bernadette posing with a coworker. They both wear hospital scrubs and masks.

I’m a hospital worker and I work in the emergency room. I still went to work every day but my days were anything but normal or routine. We observed people dying right before our eyes. Everyone had tears in their eyes as I told them what I was witnessing as a front liner. Then I explained that my reality had changed, as I was at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 myself as we didn’t have enough PPE. One of my classmates offered to send some N95 masks she had. Dr. Bridges suggested that maybe some people could donate if they had any available or were willing to make some. My classmate Elizabeth sent some homemade masks. Everyone is so grateful.

Maria Kondratiev Sossi (Art Therapy MA '11)

Maria is an art therapist at the NYU Art Therapy in Schools Program. Maria created "Views From our Spaces: PS 124 Yung Wing School Community Project" encouraging community members to share artwork capturing views of the world from their windows to foster creativity, mindfulness, and feelings of connection.

Maria Kondratiev Sossi

When my school closed due to COVID-19 I desperately wanted to engage my entire school community at PS 124 (not just the students and families on my art therapy caseload) in a project that would promote a sense of connection and therapeutic art-making at home. I asked my students and our school community to make drawings of what they saw through their windows and invited them to share those images with our school community. I have been collecting images and statements from students, teachers, and parents since mid-March in an ongoing effort to create a virtual art show.