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Students Find an Effective Way to Protect Susceptible Citizens from COVID-19 Through Telehealth Access for Seniors

Alla Issa

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Official Logo of Telehealth Access for Seniors
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Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, many have been struggling to find ways to help those being impacted by the illness or on the frontlines. Especially as city leaders continue to ask their citizens to stay home to slow the spread of the virus.

Public Health Advocates and community volunteers have been quick to adapt and establish ways for those stuck at home to offer a helping hand to those who need it most. They have come up with clever ways to take initiative while social distancing.

In the face of the growing crisis, a group of high school and college students were quick to act. This group included, Aakshi Agarwal, Hannah Verma, and Siddharth Jain–three Yale Undergrads–and Arjun Verma, a rising junior in high school. They partnered up to found Telehealth Access for Seniors, a non-profit that provides electronic devices to Senior Citizens and other vulnerable populations.

This way, they can connect with their physicians via Telehealth, rather than put their lives and others’ at risk by seeking out in-person care.

We caught up with the founding team of Telehealth Access for Seniors to learn more about their organization’s origins. Also learning how it is impacting the people who need it most and what it means for them to serve vulnerable populations while also juggling the responsibilities of a typical 17-21-year-old student.

A doctor shows a man in a black suit medical information on a grey Mac laptop.
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Questions:

Issa: Where did the idea for Telehealth Access for Seniors come from? Did you all struggle a bit before settling on its current state and structure?

Aakshi: The idea from TeleHealth Access for Seniors originated when Hannah and Arjun overheard their parents, who are physicians, worrying about how their patients with chronic conditions would make it through the pandemic using TeleMedicine when they only had a flip phone. Arjun had this great idea to connect them to some of his old devices and then Hannah realized we could do this at a larger scale.

Hannah asked me about expanding it in Connecticut, where I am, because we were close friends and both interested in healthcare. I am heavily involved in education and came up with bringing in educational resources like guides and tech-support. We combined all of our ideas to make TeleHealth Access for Seniors.

I also brought in the idea to focus on donating to Veterans Hospitals because of my experience working with veterans at my Congresswoman’s office as an intern. We definitely played around with a lot of structures for how to keep in touch with so many volunteers.

For example, when we were smaller, we had 2 volunteer coordinators and us 3 co-founders calling every state’s volunteers to check-in with them. As we grew, it became unsustainable. Now, we have state leads doing check-ins. Like this, we have had to make a lot of adjustments! 

Issa: Can you walk me through the donation and distribution process? What type of instructions and/or support does TAFS offer to recipients of devices?

Arjun: If someone would like to donate a device, they can fill out the form on our website. Every donor should try to reset, sanitize, and upgrade the device to the best of their ability. Volunteers in their region are notified, and they will coordinate shipping or a pick-up with the donor. Once the volunteers have received the device, they then check to make sure that the device has been properly reset, sanitized, and upgraded.

Volunteers then package each device with a charger and instructional guides before distributing it to the practice. These guides provide step-by-step instructions on how to set up a phone, email, and video conferencing apps, along with tips on looking for symptoms of COVID-19 and how to have good financial practices.

Because of patient privacy laws, it is the medical practice that identifies and then distributes each device to patients in need. If the patient has any questions, we also provide them with a tech support number to call where we have volunteers ready to answer questions at any time!

Issa: You all are college students, and I noticed that the majority of those who are on the Telehealth Access for Senior team or volunteer for your organization are also students. What has been your experience with creating and running a non-profit while also juggling classwork, clubs, jobs, and family commitments, especially with the added pressure of handling everything during a pandemic?

Arjun: While we have been running this organization, our administrators along with our volunteers have all been balancing studying for a variety of standardized tests, working on schoolwork, and spending time with our families while also putting all of our efforts into this organization.

We all have our individual tasks of organizing meetings, coordinating volunteer drop-offs, keeping records of donations along with actually soliciting devices. Our volunteers are all dedicated and hard-working, so all of them have still been able to help immensely in our goal of helping every senior and veteran get access to healthcare. Despite the struggles, it’s still been an extremely rewarding experience.

Issa: You all put emphasis on being socially-conscious and have expanded to support low-income communities as part of your initiative. How and why did you all decide to shift the initiative to focus on supporting multiple disadvantaged communities, rather than just Seniors with limited electronic access? 

Aakshi: All of us definitely have a passion for healthcare in different ways and have had varied experiences of our own with healthcare access whether it be personally or through family members. Those experiences really informed us to want to serve those in underserved communities from a young age, so we began this organization with a focus on helping those who were most at risk and most at need.

This began with the name focus on Senior Citizens because the pandemic definitely highlighted a need to help seniors given how much they are affected by the coronavirus. As the pandemic worsened, our definition of who was most at risk and had the most need grew.

For example, we recognized an early focus for helping veterans as they tend to be lower-income and statistically have used TeleMedicine less. 

Issa: What’s in store for Telehealth Access for Seniors? The future of the pandemic is unknown, so I imagine its course may impact any developments you all are working on, but do you think that there will still be a demand for electronic access in the time after COVID-19? In what way do you see TAFS adapting to address similar, but unrelated, electronic-access issues?

Hannah: As we’ve heard from many providers, Telehealth appointments are the future of medicine. For routine check-ups, they save a lot of time and resources on both ends. The healthcare industry has long been trying to shift to a virtual model, but there was a lot of hesitancy to make that change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that telehealth is not just a short-term substitute, but rather a long term solution.

We know that there will be high demand and use of these devices for appointments in the future, but cost barriers and age barriers will continue to be an issue for tech literacy for the patient populations we are focused on helping, like veterans and seniors.

We hope to continue addressing this for years to come, perhaps through large scale device recycling programs to repurpose them for patients in need. We are mainly focused on health as our mission, but we are also addressing wellness and connectivity through our guides, and we hope to branch out more to advocacy as well. 

Issa: Is there anything you haven’t had the opportunity to share that you would like to?

Hannah: We are constantly looking for more donations! Even a $5 contribution to our GoFundMe allows us to buy chargers. If you work at a larger organization, we’d appreciate your spreading the word amongst your team to potentially have a company contribution. 

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How to Support the Black Lives Matter Movement in the Long Run

Anna Leikvold

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A black women with brown curly hair, face mask and black jacket on, standing at a BLM protest holding a sign that says "listen learn."
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The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, prompted outrage across the nation and world. The fight to end police brutality is far from over, and the most important thing to do is to not let this movement lose momentum. The end goal is to never have another man, woman, or child of color brutalized or killed by the police. 

As a white person, I understand my privileged position, and hope only to share my personal goals to support the movement, and hope to help others do the same. Here are 7 things you can personally do to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the long run and bring us one step closer to achieving that goal. 

1. Support black-owned businesses in your area and around the world. 

Do some research into your area or shop online with these companies to help them grow. This is one of the many ways to empower non-white communities and help create lasting impacts. Shift away from large chains as much as you can. Here is a list of 75 black-owned businesses with incredible products you can start supporting now. 

2. Educate yourself

Especially for white people. Continue to learn and understand this movement. Listen to podcasts, read books and articles, and watch movies. Most importantly, listen to the messages of black people around you and work to understand. Educating yourself about these issues is a lifelong commitment. Understand that you will never fully understand, but do your absolute best.

Know that the more you learn, the better of an ally you can be for everyone around you. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander or “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo are some great books to start or continue with self-education. If you want to see a movie to self-educate, “13th” and “Just Mercy” are two of the many great options.  Educate yourself so you can better inform people around you. 

A sign on a black background that reads LIBERATE NEW YORK CITY, ABOLISH THE POLICE, #ShutDownCityHallNYC
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3. Use your social media presence.

Keep using your social media platform to spread important messages and create your own messages. Share information with friends and family members, and turn skeptics into allies. For white people especially, work hard to make other white people in your communities understand this massive problem. Understand the privilege you have in this movement and use it to have hard conversations. Don’t post your normal content. It is really important to keep social media as a platform for change. It is a simple thing to do that makes a big difference. 

4. Think local.

Local politics are crucial in changing policing systems. This means putting pressure on city council members, mayors, judges, and other representatives to make a difference. This isn’t as difficult as you may think. You can easily locate contact information for elected officials in your area, and send letters and emails demanding justice and change in the system. This also means staying more informed about local legislation and elections. Protest when necessary and make your voice heard. These elected officials are there to represent your wishes in government, so demand that they do so. Know the names of your city and state representatives and hold them accountable. 

5. Make recurring donations.

While many people have donated to organizations recently, it is crucial that these organizations continue receiving financial assistance from those who can afford it. A great way to do this is to commit to a recurring monthly donation. This amount can be small, but consistency is what will keep the organizations strong throughout this long fight. Do a lot of research about where you are donating so you feel confident in the organization you are supporting. 

An African American woman holding a sign that reads, "Tired of making a banner."
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6. Vote in all upcoming elections. 

This goes without saying for most, but we need policy changes both federally and locally, and it is so important to vote for officials and policies you believe in. Stay informed and up to date always. There is no room to be ignorant about politics now. 

7. For White People: Remember your privilege. 

It is very common for movements such as this one to die out because people go back to their day-to-day lives. In this case, white people have the privilege of not having to fear police brutality every single day, and it becomes easy to forget about the violent status quo. Acknowledge that privilege as much as you can and come to resent it. Talk about it and be an ally. Remember this isn’t your fight, but you can help every step of the way if you listen, learn, and understand your place in it all. 

We must imagine a better future for it to ever be possible. In a time of chaos and fear for many, it is important to not become overwhelmed to the extent that we fail to continue fighting for what is right. Take these 7 steps, and some of your own, to continue to support Black Lives Matter in the long run. 

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10 Best Podcasts By College Dropouts That Will Inspire You

Anna Anderson

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A close-up of a young brown-haired lady wearing a black coat and large headphones around her neck.
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College isn’t the right path for everyone, and people don’t need it to succeed in life. If you are thinking about dropping out of college or already have, you can still do great things. This list of podcasts addresses dropping out of college and the steps a person can take to achieve their dreams.

Podcast #1 Successful dropout

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Kylon interviews entrepreneurs who dropped out of college to pursue their careers, and they tell their stories of success. He also gives advice on how to deal with dropping out of college, from convincing parents to beliefs dropouts should adopt. 

Length: The podcasts range from 10 min to an hour

Format: Interview Podcast

Reviews: 5/5 out of 59 ratings

Recommended for: Anyone looking to be inspired by the work of many diverse college dropouts.

Podcast #2 Typical Misfit

An animated picture of a dark haired young man with a beard and wearing a beige shirt in front of a Mexican restaurant.

Dillon Alexander is a college dropout who became a standup comedian. He talks about various topics through his podcast including stories of his relationships, politics, and life philosophies.

Length: The podcasts range from 20 min to 90 min, but the majority are around half an hour. 

Format: solo/monologue

Reviews: 5/5 out of 12 ratings

Recommended for: Anyone looking to laugh and do some soul searching.

Podcast #3 The Knight’s Tale

Some "Old English" style text saying, "The Knight's Tale" with a knight in front of it drinking coffee and a mic icon next to it in a dark red and grey background.

Robert Woods dropped out of college, but with the right attitude, he found success. In the podcast, he interviews entrepreneurs and gives inspirational advice to those considering dropping out of college.

Length: The podcasts range from 1 min to 40 min, most clocking in at under 10 min. 

Format: Monologue and interview

Reviews: 5/5 out of 6 ratings

Recommended for: Those who want short but rich content.

Podcast #4 Shawn B Speaks Truth

A buzzed hair man wearing a black T shirt sitting next to a dark-haired woman wearing a multi-colored tanktop in a studio room.

Shawn B talks about his struggles with poverty, dropping out of college, and his experiences. He also talks about Detroit, the city where he grew up.

Length: 8 min to 30 min

Format: Monologue/Solo and Interview

Reviews: 4.8/5 out of 4 ratings

Recommended for: Someone who wants to hear about an in-depth life story and the ideas that rose from it.

Podcast #5 The College Dropout Podcast

Some fancy black and red text saying "The College Dropout" with a small graduation hat on top  in a grey background.

The podcast aims to motivate and guide college dropouts. The host interviews entrepreneurs and shares positive life philosophies.

Length: 4 min to 45 min, widely varied

Format: Solo/monologue and Interview

Reviews: 5/5 out of 1 review

Recommended for: People who want to hear some fresh advice about their career path.

Podcast #6 The Tai Lopez Show

White text saying "The Tai Lopez Show" in a black background with a man wearing glasses and a formal uniform in front of an orange car.

Tai Lopez dropped out of college and became an entrepreneur. In his podcasts, he interviews the top entrepreneurs and suggests the best life lesson books for his listeners to read.

Length: 3 min to 2 hours, wide ranging with most episodes over 30 min

Format: Solo/monologue and Interview

Reviews: 4.3/5 out of 7.2 k ratings

Recommended for: Someone looking to read and listen to a greater breadth in terms of the interviewees’ careers.

Podcast #7 Knowledge Without College

Circular white text saying "Knowledge Without College" in a black and red background.

Patrick Butler dropped out of college and became an entrepreneur. He encourages all kinds of learning through his interviews, the subjects being of many diverse fields.

Length: 10 min to 90 min, many of the podcasts around an hour

Format: Interview

Reviews: 4.9/5 out of 15 ratings

Recommended for: A series of interviews with greater breadth in terms of the interviewees careers.

Podcast #8 Digital Gandhi

Yellow and white text saying "Digital Ghandi Radio" in a yellow and white background.

Onkar K Khullar or Digital Gandhi encourages listeners who don’t want to live conventional lives. He shares his crazy life stories, including dropping out of college 3 times, and takes his listeners on an adventure. 

Length: 1 min to 15 min

Format: Monologue/solo

Reviews: N/A

Recommended for: Those who want to be in awe.

Podcast #9 Schoolboy and the Dropout

A stick figure guy running and jumping off a black cliff with text saying "Schoolboy and the Dropout".

Two friends from college come together in this podcast, one who dropped out and the other who graduated. Together they talk about college and fitness. 

Length: about an hour long

Format: Conversational/co-hosted

Reviews: 5/5 out of 3 ratings

Recommended for: Someone who wants to hear about two perspectives and contrasting stories.

Podcast #10 The 38

A huge white bus with lots of other colors in front of a building with very small fine print saying 38 Geary on top.

Nikolas Harter hosts the podcast, inspired by the bus that runs past his home. He talks about why the college dropout rate is so high in community colleges and about his life in general. 

Length: 30 seconds to an hour, most over 20 min

Format: Solo/Monologue

Reviews: N/A

Recommended for: Someone who wants to hear another’s life stories.

After listening to the podcasts above, you should feel inspired to go forth and pursue your passions. A wide range of people have done great things without a college education. The podcasts show that dropping out of college doesn’t limit a person’s success and anyone can move forward without it. 

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How to Improve Your Chances of Landing a Remote Job Amidst Coronavirus Unemployment

Katherine Feinstein

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An animated man with no face and a white beard wearing a blue shirt reading a red book on a blue background with a bunch of academic emoticons surrounding him.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the everyday lives of people around the world, including many college students whose summer internships are being halted as a result of the shutdown. However, applying to remote jobs, making connections on LinkedIn, learning new skills, and utilizing internet resources could be the key to still having hope in securing an internship this summer.

Boost your resume with a part-time remote position.

In the wake of this economic downturn and halting of operations, many companies have shortened or moved their summer programs online; a large number of smaller companies have even canceled their internship programs altogether.

Unfortunately, when business is being compromised, interns and internship programs aren’t the top priority for companies. Despite this, many companies are actually creating more unpaid, remote intern positions, since they need fresh minds and extra hands to help their businesses succeed in this difficult economic climate.

Though most college students may still be on the hunt for paid summer internships, an unpaid remote job is the perfect opportunity to help you fill the time during quarantine and get a step closer to finding something you’re passionate about. Depending on what field of work you’re looking for, a remote position can be a great resume-booster, learning experience, and opportunity to try something new.

The new normal might be a bitter pill to swallow for those still hoping for a paid internship; however, if financially doable, marketing yourself as a remote employee who is willing to put in the effort without the pay could eventually lead you to a full-time, paid position in the future.

Nine groups of animated people, each with a variation of colors ,and with arrows connecting to one laptop in the middle.
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Make an extra effort to reach out and connect with potential employers on LinkedIn.

For many college students, LinkedIn is no foreign website. It’s pretty easy to search for employers who are looking for students in your major, or jobs that have titles that appeal to you. However, what many people don’t do is reach out and make connections.

During a time when everyone feels alone and overwhelmed, it’s even more important to seal your online job application with a genuine message to someone who works where you’ve applied. 

Showing employers that you care and have done your research is barely demonstrated by just turning in a resume and cover letter.

In addition to these things, you should also go to the company’s LinkedIn page and see which of their employees are alumni of your school, or have jobs in a similar area of interest as you. Once you’ve pinpointed someone, briefly but genuinely message them asking to schedule a call to talk about their position at said company.

Even if they never respond or the call ends up not being useful—which it probably will be—at the very least you have made sure that someone at the company has seen your name before they read your resume.

Choose a new skill to learn from the list of things common employers look for in your field.

Another way to market yourself during a time when acquiring employment is more difficult is to update your skillset. Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill or strengthen old ones! If you’re not sure what to start with, think of your dream job or a sector of jobs you would love to have.

You can also study the list of things employers look for or see as a plus when hiring, such as proficiency in online programming, outlets like Microsoft Office applications, coding, website-building, or anything else you often see on job applications that deter you from applying.

Even just teaching yourself one computer program or skill makes you a stronger candidate. Not only that, but it’s a great talking point and strength to bring up during an interview as well.

Employers want employees who are hands-on and take initiative, so using this time to teach yourself something new can only help you.

A woman with dark hair with a button-up shirt, working on a MAC laptop.
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Try out different online occupational resources.

Aside from LinkedIn, there are tons of internet resources to help you narrow down what jobs you want and keep you up to date on what’s out there.

Handshake is a great resource for students. The website is similar to LinkedIn, but it is specifically targeted at employers looking to hire college students.

Indeed is also a good option for doing a more pointed job search, as it allows you to do specific searches for jobs in your area and with specific titles that you’re looking for. Unlike LinkedIn, Indeed is not ideal for networking and is really just used for a narrowed job search.

CareerBuilder is perhaps the perfect combination of the two, as it has thorough job search options and networking capabilities, as well as the added bonuses of career advice and a resource center equipped with alerts and articles to keep you informed.

Finally, for students looking for a part-time project or a remote opportunity to help boost their resume during quarantine, Upwork is the perfect resource. Upwork is an online marketplace created to connect freelance workers with employers looking to assign temporary projects and gigs.

Freelancers can search for projects based on categories such as web design or writing, as well as create profiles to market their skills and attract employers looking for their expertise. 

While in-person job fairs and networking events are temporarily suspended, using these online resources could help match you with the best-fit job for you.

Get out there (metaphorically) and persevere!

College students are home from school and the future is up in the air, but online resources, remote jobs, the time to learn a new skill, and making meaningful connections with employers on networking websites like LinkedIn could help secure an opportunity for later.

Though losing a summer internship or having your current job suspended or even canceled are devastating obstacles, the main strategy to keep in mind is that persistence is key.

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