As the needs of the community increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, West Virginia University’s Gamma Mu Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health met the charge of its mission to promote excellence in contributing to the field of public health and advancing the health of people in every aspect, earning the Chapter of the Year award for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Established at WVU in 2012, the Gamma Mu Chapter has been recognized by the Delta Omega National Office and Executive Committee for its commitment to public health service every year since its inception, including seven Chapter of the Year awards and one runner-up award.
The 2020-2021 academic year brought new challenges to the group that enjoys engaging with each other and community members at in-person service events. With a little creativity and a lot of commitment, nearly 150 volunteers completed a total of 533 community service hours throughout the year.
“This year was full of interesting challenges, but we didn’t let them stand in the way of our service,” said Hannah Layman, Gamma Mu Chapter vice president for community service and PhD in Public Health Sciences student. “We knew the community needed us even more during these hard times, so we found fun, new ways to give back.”
The Gamma Mu Chapter leadership team worked in collaboration with School of Public Health faculty, the Student Association of Public Health and local organizations to remain active in the community in the fall and spring semesters. Volunteer events and activities included providing support for blood drives, educational sessions, COVID-19 contact tracing training, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certification, Safe Zone training, WVU Collegiate Recovery ally training, Pantry Plus More and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
In addition to service, the Gamma Mu Chapter provided various opportunities for student, faculty, staff and alumni to engage and learn with each other. Virtual events included a seminar focused on promoting research projects, alumni career presentations, a research symposium partnering students with faculty mentors, a poster competition, trivia night and scavenger hunt.
“The need for opportunities to connect School of Public Health students, faculty and staff was much greater last year due to increased isolation as a result of the pandemic,” said Brenna Kirk, Gamma Mu Chapter 2020-2021 president and PhD in Public Health Sciences student. “I am immensely proud of our team’s creativity and determination in bringing such opportunities, those formal and informal, to fellow students.”
As the academic year came to a close, members recognized the hard work of those in our community and among the group. To show their appreciation to the Monongalia County Health Department for their dedication to keeping our community safe and healthy, they provided a catered lunch as part of Delta Omega’s Day of Service during National Public Health Week. The group also celebrated new chapter inductees during the School’s annual ceremony.
“We have been pleased to see the ways in which our Gamma Mu chapter has been able to make a difference to students, alumni and the community and provide sources of hope and opportunity within a public health crisis,” said Elizabeth Claydon, PhD, Gamma Mu faculty adviser and assistant professor in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences. “It says so much about the resilience of the student leaders and our student population when they are willing to come together, even virtually, to make our mission successful.”
Layman, who is continuing to serve as vice president for community service, has already organized multiple events for members to participate in this year and is looking forward to continued growth and engagement.
“This academic year is already off to a great start with more than 250 hours of service completed! We are so excited to explore new ways and opportunities to serve our community.”
About Delta Omega and the Gamma Mu Chapter
The Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health was founded in 1924 at Johns Hopkins University to promote the graduate study of public health, and to recognize outstanding achievement in the new field.
The Gamma Mu Chapter was founded in 2012 with its primary goals focused on service, scholarship and outreach. Aligned with the national organization's community service-centered mission, the Chapter channels much of its efforts into local organizations that benefit the greater Morgantown area, scholarship that helps advance WVU public health students in their academic and professional careers and outreach that engages its alumni members.
Pictured at top: Members of West Virginia University’s Gamma Mu Chapter of the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health show their appreciation to the Monongalia County Health Department for their work keeping our community safe and healthy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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WVU School of Public Health