Beneficence wearing a face mask

The spirit of Beneficence has shone brightly during this challenging time. Since last Spring, we have reported the many ways that Ball State’s community, including its alumni, have reached out to help make a difference during the COVID-19 crisis. Here are some highlights.

Samantha Phillips helps in the heart of the pandemic

Samantha Phillips, '17

Early in the COVID-19 crisis, nursing alumna Samantha Phillips, ’17, wanted to go where she could most make a difference. So she said goodbyes to her family and traveled 2,190 miles from her El Paso, Texas, home to Coney Island Hospital, a public hospital located in New York City’s Brooklyn borough.

“I felt my heart pulling for me to go and help. I couldn’t guiltlessly sit idly by when I knew I could be of assistance.

For the next 41 days, Phillips worked 84-hour weeks, with only four days off the entire time. On April 28, Coney Island Hospital marked the milestone of discharging its 500th COVID-19 patient. Phillips had helped treat many of those patients in the hospital’s ER, as well as a makeshift COVID ICU that was staged out of a shut-down post-anesthesia care unit.

Geoff Hutchinson conducts high-stakes research

Geoff Hutchinson, former biochemistry and pre-medicine student

In just a few years, Geoff Hutchinson went from learning to do research in a Ball State lab to working on the frontlines to find a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Working around the clock with scientists at a research center operated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) outside of Washington, D.C., Hutchinson joined a team toiling to develop a vaccine for the virus, transforming mountains of data into an understanding of how the disease is spreading and how it can be stopped.

“My time at Ball State prepared me well for this step in my career,” said Hutchinson, who cited many similarities between his current work and the research he did as an undergraduate in Chemistry Professor Patricia Lang’s lab. “But the stakes are much higher now.”

Marie Weller takes lessons from her kitchen to the kids

When the pandemic closed her elementary school in Delaware, Ohio, Marie Weller, ’84, wanted to still help students in dealing with their social and emotional issues on a daily basis. So, the veteran school counselor and several toy puppets joined forces for a series of YouTube videos created in her kitchen.

Soon, the videos gained national attention via major news outlets.

Through her puppets, Weller talked to kids in a way they could understand. The lessons, she said, helped them “learn how the world works, how they fit into it, and how to behave in ways that are socially acceptable.”

The Kleins use teamwork to juggle family and the frontline

Dave and Madriane Klein

During the COVID-19 crisis, alumni Dave and Madriane (Pugsley) Klein have juggled daunting time commitments to their frontline first-responder jobs—she’s a trauma ICU nurse at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Shoreline and he is a Deputy U.S. Marshal.

While Dave and Madriane are battling the pandemic in very different roles, they make a point to work closely as a team in raising their infant son.

The keys to surviving the pandemic, they say: passion for your work and helping your community, staying positive, and keeping family close.

Ege Yener’s innovation protects health care worker

Ege Yener

Architectural designer Ege Yener, ’15, decided to use his skills in conceptual-design thinking and 3D and 2D design software to help protect health-care workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Yener organized a group of architects and designers who own personal 3D printers to work together to print the protective gear. The first delivery, 100 masks, was made to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.

“One of the best things I learned at Ball State was how to organize and create high-functioning teams,” said Yener, who works at Siegel and Strain Architects in Emeryville, California.

Amy Amyx takes the tough times on the frontlines in stride

Amy Amyx

As a registered dietitian at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, Amy Amyx, ‘00, covers the intensive care and progressive care units, which were designated as COVID-19 units in the early weeks of the pandemic.

While she and her colleagues had dealt various infectious diseases such as acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and H1N1 influenza (swine flu), the novel coronavirus outbreak posed a unique challenge.

“We have handled tough times here in the past and are now taking this in stride as we take all the necessary precaution,” she said last Spring. However, facing the potential deadly virus on a daily basis not only impacted the hospital staff, but also their families. “Honestly, it’s been emotional.”