Samantha Nino: Student Leadership During a Pandemic


William Apostolica, Staff Writer

While the global outbreak of COVID-19 has interrupted students’ academic and extracurricular activities, senior Samantha Nino rose above the challenge and works as a student worker at the COVID-19 testing site on campus. 

Aside from showing up to work with heavy protective gear to stay healthy, Nino has many more responsibilities that may involve close exposure to the virus. 

“The position entails preparing the nasal swabs for the COVID-19 test and then placing them in tubes so they can be sent to the lab after the test. It’s a delicate process, so just one mistake such as not closing the zip lock bag tightly, not screwing on the cap correctly or any other type of contamination could lead to the testing errors,” Nino said. 

Nino started the position this year upon her return to campus. 

“I enjoy helping people, that’s what motivates me. This pandemic is much bigger than all of us, so it’s a situation that requires all hands on deck and we all have to do our part. Knowing that I can help with this on campus feels so rewarding.”

Nino first saw the position through Colgate’s work study job portal. 

“I was interviewed and went through training, and then began working at COVID-19 testing site center at 113 Broad at the beginning of this semester,” she said.

According to Nino, the most compelling part of the job is seeing all the students’ faces and reactions to COVID-19 testing. While there may be fear at certain parts of the process, there is also a lot of gratitude from the students, faculty and staff. 

“[The] students leave and say, ‘thank you so much for what you’re doing.’ I think it’s really encouraging to see the entire Colgate population all come together in this one location to do this one thing: testing,” Nino said.

Working as a testing coordinator in itself can be a very emotional process, Nino highlighted, and it can be difficult at times to be in direct exposure to the virus in a pandemic that has not been easy. 

“While I enjoy coming to work every shift, I do find it difficult responding to individuals who are not willing to comply with the precautions that we take during testing, especially considering how far we have already come at this point in the semester. When people do not show up for their scheduled time appointments, it throws off Colgate’s testing schedule, and puts people at risk,” Nino said. 

Aside from COVID-19 testing, Nino is one of the Board members for Colgate’s Minority Association for Premedical Students (MAPS). 

MAPS is an organization that is committed to supporting BIPOC students preparing for a career in medicine by providing peer mentorship. It’s a welcoming environment where students can ask questions and feel supported in ways they might not otherwise,” Nino said. “I am glad that I became involved with this organization because, before MAPS, there wasn’t really another organization at the time I joined that voiced the concerns that pre-health BIPOC students face on campus. I felt the support and encouragement to continue with pre-health because of MAPS.”

Working as a coordinator while also being one of the members of the premedical board draw several connections to one another, and Nino has taken a rare opportunity that has enhanced her career pathway. Nino is also a molecular biology concentrator and a geography minor. 

“I find the connection between science and studying places and the relationships between people and their environment really interesting. I think I can use what I learn in my biology classes to look at the world around me and understand these relationships even further. I hope to integrate my interest in biology into my future, with my goal of pursuing a career in healthcare.” Nino says.

Nino’s position as a student worker at the COVID-19 sites involves careful, delicate work that has made a tremendous impact on campus. With several rounds of COVID-19 testing monthly, her work is greatly appreciated by the Colgate community.