Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors Share Messages of Hope at COVID-19 Vaccination Rally

Ashley Hott, a nursing student at George Fox University, Oregon, addressed a virtual rally of over 300 students, faculty, staff, and other interfaith leaders on Tuesday night, and told them why she is a vaccine ambassador. 

“I myself am immunocompromised, so are some of my family and friends, and it's really important that I do whatever I can to promote the vaccine and bring protection and awareness to my community." 

Hott’s remarks were a part of a five-part video series created to commemorate the work of the Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors (FIVA) -- an IFYC initiative launched in March 2021. As a part of the initiative, 1,600 people -- including college students, campus staff, religious leaders, and community organizers from 108 campuses and 90-plus civic and faith-based institutions were trained to address vaccine hesitancy and access in their local communities. To date, their efforts have been responsible for generating tens of thousands of personal touchpoints and many hundreds of events, primarily in racial minority low-income, and rural communities. 

Eboo Patel, founder, and president of IFYC joined the ambassadors at the rally to celebrate their work so far: 

“You have been my heroes over the course of the past several months. You have been doing the work of the nation, of the public, and of the world,” said Patel. “I can’t thank you enough and tell you how much you’ve inspired me.”  

When asked about their biggest learnings from the experience, ambassadors shared stories of hope, resilience, and gratitude. Rosemary Ornelaz, an ambassador from University of the Incarnate Word, Texas, shared: “Our goal as vaccine ambassadors is not to force anybody to get the vaccine, our goal is to educate the public on the vaccine, and allow them to make that informed decision, an educated decision, whether they want to take the vaccine or not.”  

WATCH Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors – “Something I’ve Learned…”

In another video, Brilliant Williams, from Clayton State University, Georgia, shared what advice she would like to give her fellow ambassadors: “To be confident in what you are advocating for, in this case, let us be confident in the vaccine to help our fellow peers.”  
 
WATCH Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors – “If I Could Share One Piece of Advice…” 

Closing the event, Dr. Tanya Sorrell, associate professor at Rush University Medical Center, urged the ambassadors to stay vigilant in their work and to not get weary.  

“Remember to take self-care as well. Take breaks, safe vacations, meditate, get some downtime,” said Dr. Sorrell, who played an integral role in training the ambassadors when the initiative was launched. “Use patience, persistence... little by little we can work at changing hearts, not condemnation, but compassion, will set the stage for that.” 

You can watch the full rally here.

You can also watch the five-part video series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.