At the outset of the pandemic, when good news seemed hard to come by, a pattern emerged quickly that shone a bright light on this community – Human Ecology alumni were stepping up and living the mission of the College by helping to improve the lives of their neighbors and communities affected by the pandemic. Acknowledging this, the Human Ecology Alumni Association (HEAA) saw an opportunity to celebrate all the good coming from so many members of the College community and established the Human Ecology Recognizing Outstanding Examples of Service (HEROES) Award. The award recognizes alumni and students whose dedication, perseverance, positivity and altruism had a positive impact on their communities during such a trying time.
A total of 86 people were nominated, spanning 73 graduation years (1951 – 2024), representing states from New England to Hawaii, with professions ranging from physician to teacher, social worker to stay-at-home mom. One alumna partnered with the CDC, creating easy-to-read COVID-19 materials for people with intellectual disabilities so that they can understand related health risks and advocate for themselves. Another alumnus employed more than 300 people to create over half a million disposable isolation gowns in just two months, helping neighbors access much-needed work, and ensuring frontline heroes stayed safe. A recent graduate of Human Ecology who is in medical school collaborated with residents and classmates to create a program facilitating bedside video calls between patients and their loved ones, while also fundraising over 15000+ items of PPE for the hospital. These are just a few examples of the impact created by HEROES Award winners. After learning of the nominees and all their accomplishments, Rachel Dunifon, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of Human Ecology said, “I have never been prouder to be a part of the Human Ecology community as I have these past fifteen months.”
The selfless dedication of so many in the College community during the pandemic is further proof that Human Ecology alumni and students are never afraid to roll up their sleeves to be of service to others and make the world a better place.