Photo Credits: Cathy Tang / Aggie
UC Davis 2021 graduate Lauren Alimento shares her experience working as a campus public health ambassador
Since September 2020, anyone walking across UC Davis campus or visiting downtown Davis has likely come across Aggie Public Health Ambassadors—student employees who encourage students to follow safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the roughly 250 ambassadors is Lauren Alimento, a UC Davis winter 2021 graduate and an Aggie Public Health Ambassador. Alimento said that working in the Silo is one of her favorite shifts as a Health Ambassador.
At the Silo, Alimento sits near the entrance and checks daily symptom surveys of students and staff, makes sure they are following mask-wearing and social distancing rules and grants them access to the building. She also helps visitors access the visitor symptom survey and educates them about the safety precautions that the university has in place.
“Usually, it’s a lot of students who walk in,” Alimento said. “Students know what to do—just flash their symptom survey and then walk by—but there are a lot of [community members who] come in without masks, and it’s a lot of educating them about how you’re supposed to properly wear masks.”
In addition to these tasks, Alimento has been able to interact with many prospective students touring the campus.
“A lot of visitors come, and I explain things about campus to them because we’re the only students who are working on campus right now,” Alimento said.
Aggie Public Health Ambassadors work at the entrances of campus buildings with the most traffic, such as the Silo, Memorial Union and the three Dining Commons. They also have “floater” shifts, during which ambassadors are assigned to walk around campus or downtown to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing and give out rewards to groups and individuals following public health protocols.
“A lot of times we have little gift cards that we’ll give out, like a $5 Yolo Berry gift card or a $5 student store gift card,” Alimento said. “It’s mostly trying to encourage [health guidelines] in a positive way to make it a healthy, happy experience of, ‘We all want Davis to open up, so thank you for keeping your mask on [and] distancing.’”
Alimento said that one of her other most common shifts is in the library, where she and fellow Aggie Public Health Ambassadors have to check symptom surveys, but they also “float” around the library, enforcing social distancing and mask-wearing.
“Usually there are three to six ambassadors there, and we rotate every hour,” Alimento said. “One person will be in the front desk checking people in; one person will be at the next desk. You have to check at two different desks to show your daily symptom survey. Then there are a handful of people who just roam around making sure people are keeping their masks on.”
Alimento said that she applied for the Aggie Public Health Ambassador job over the summer because it was a way to spend time on campus while all of her classes were online.
Alimento said that she has realized that Aggie Public Health Ambassadors have had a significant impact on UC Davis’ campus culture during the pandemic.
“I know most people know how to wear masks. It’s just a few people that could be problematic, and having ambassadors who help clean up those loose ends ensures that every single person on campus is safe and wearing a mask,” Alimento said. “We’re all in this together and the ambassador program really emphasizes that.”
Written by: Katie DeBenedetti — firstname.lastname@example.org