March 2021 – Drew University student Justin Roskam C’22 used his platform as a New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholar to advocate for the public to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Roskam wrote an op-ed on the subject for ROI-NJ with a fellow member of the Governor’s STEM Scholar program, which introduces top New Jersey high school and college students to the state’s vast STEM workforce, network, and economy. Governor Phil Murphy even posted the story from his Facebook and Twitter accounts, encouraging vaccination.
“I have been involved in the pandemic response from the very beginning as an EMT and have seen my family, patients, and co-workers suffer because of widespread transmission,” explained Roskam, a biochemistry and molecular biology major.
“As a student, I’ve had to put in-person learning and experiential opportunities on hold until we can safely interact again in person. Vaccination is important to me because it is a means to decrease the deadliness of a virus that has had a negative impact on so many of our lives.”
Since transferring to Drew prior to the fall 2020 semester, Roskam has been inspired by the sense of community, which inspired him to speak out.
“I was amazed at the level of advocacy and interaction displayed by my fellow students. The Drew community wholeheartedly supports student involvement and promotes its importance both on and off campus. This sense of civic responsibility and caring for my community definitely motivated me to help spread the word about vaccination.”
The combination of science and advocacy is not just for the present for Roskam, who plans on entering a physician scientist program after Drew.
“I want to have the opportunity to work at the intersection of groundbreaking science and patient care,” he said.
With a résumé that includes front-line EMT work during a pandemic, a robust undergraduate education, and a community encouraging him to transfer his skills and sense of civic responsibility into the community, it’s easy to follow the stepping stones towards reaching that goal.
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