Jessica Leighton ‘21

Working Hard on the COVID-19 Front Lines
UNH student Jessica Leighton '21

Jessica Leighton is a genetics major and Spanish minor from North Kingstown, Rhode Island. She started working on campus for ConvenientMD in August, one week before classes began. Recently, she also joined the staff at the UNH COVID-19 testing and diagnostic lab as a clinical laboratory assistant.

COLSA: Please describe your job with ConvenientMD.

Jessica: I have been working for ConvenientMD for a month now. I started the week before classes started when we were testing thousands of students a day at the Whittemore Center. The 10-hour shifts consisted of registering, instructing, and swabbing students while wearing a N-95 mask, a face shield, gloves, and a gown. Once students were given their self-swab kits, I moved over to the stadium to help swab faculty and staff.

I am still working for ConvenientMD to make sure the faculty and staff are able to have their once weekly tests done.

COLSA: Why did you apply for the job?

Jessica: I applied for this job because I wanted to work on the front lines of the pandemic. I also knew that I'd be providing a great service to UNH by doing this. For all of us to return to campus and feel safe, COVID testing was (and still is) a must. Without students working for ConvenientMD, UNH may not have had enough COVID testing capacity for campus to open.

Not only was I excited and determined to work on the front lines for UNH, but this is a great experience for me since I am a genetics major.

"For all of us to return to campus and feel safe, COVID testing was (and still is) a must." 

COLSA: What is the most important or interesting thing you've learned so far?

Jessica: I have learned the procedures that go into testing patients for COVID, which includes learning how to swab someone correctly and making sure the samples are prepared and packaged correctly for their transport to the lab.

Along with learning the clinical aspect of COVID testing, I have also learned the laboratory side of testing. I recently joined the UNH COVID Lab as a clinical laboratory assistant. Overall, I've gained an understanding about the whole testing procedure when it comes to COVID. I know swabbing techniques and testing techniques on machines within the lab.

COLSA: What does it mean to you to be on the front lines doing essential work to help manage the spread of COVID-19?

Jessica: It gives me a sense of pride knowing that I am doing something positive for this community to ensure that we can remain on campus while other colleges have had to shut down already.

COLSA: How has this experience been valuable for you?

Jessica: I've gained so much more knowledge and experience about this virus. It will benefit me in the future and give me an upper hand within the field of genetics. And again, I am working with a sense of pride knowing that I am helping my community.

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