New Jersey Congressman Andy Kim Pays Visit to RowanSOM Vaccination Center

Dean Cavalieri takes Congressman Andy Kim on a walk-through tour of Rowan's vaccination center. Photo via Multimedia Editor / Alex Rossen

On Monday, Feb. 8, Congressman Andy Kim, the representative for New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional district, met with leaders from Rowan’s School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) and Rowan’s Chief of Staff to President Houshmand, Dr. Joanne Connor, for a tour of Rowan University’s vaccination center and the Operation Saving Lives initiative.

Throughout this tour, the group spent time talking to student workers, security officers, volunteers, and EMT personnel on-site to understand the vaccination center’s operations.

The visit left everyone feeling hopeful about the future of New Jersey. 

“It’s just amazing to see the contribution that Rowan wants to make back to the community,” Kim said.

Leaders from the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine present Congressman Andy Kim with an honorary Operation Saving Lives shirt. — Photo via Multimedia Editor / Alex Rossen

After the visit, Connor was “struck by the fact that we are participating in a process that is literally saving lives.” 

“There’s a lot of despair, a lot of frustration, but we’re here to give them hope and help,” Dr. Joshua Coren, the leading physician at the vaccination center, said. 

Getting people vaccinated as soon as possible remains central to Kim’s plan to beat the pandemic. 

“The priority is exactly what is happening here, which is getting this vaccine out to as many people as possible,” Kim said. “Nothing could be more important than that right now.”

Everyone remarked on how incredible everything the students and volunteers in Operation Saving Lives are doing is.

“It is impossible for me to say enough great things about the amazing efforts of Rowan’s students with Operation Saving Lives,” Sean Kennedy, RowanSOM’s director of government relations, said.

Kim expressed his hope that this pandemic’s experience reignites the importance of having strong talent and medically trained individuals in our communities.

“What an incredible opportunity for them to be utilizing what they’re learning in the classroom during a global pandemic that is hopefully once in a lifetime,” Connor said.

Congressman Andy Kim greets a volunteer working at the check-in station. — Photo via Multimedia Editor / Alex Rossen

To the students participating in Operation Saving Lives, this is a critical moment for them to use the skills they have gained in school to make the communities around them better. 

“This is exactly what we’re learning this information for; we want to see it put into practice. We’re part of this momentous historical movement to better public safety and educate people on why they need to take the vaccine,” first-year biology major Archana Menon said.

For first-year student volunteer Natalie Calderon, being a part of Operation Saving Lives while also being a full-time student has given her valuable experience in handling a work-life balance. 

“We are learning to multitask when we have to study as well as trying to make sure we’re not over-studying ourselves but also supporting our community,” Calderon said.

Calderon and Menon estimate that the number of people vaccinated at this center is over 8,000 as of Monday, Feb. 8th, and steadily climbing.

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