For Kira, Volunteering Has Helped Solidify the Path She’s Taking

Apr 19 2023

Ask someone close to retirement what their plans are for filling their time without their pesky jobs getting in the way. With seemingly unlimited free time, you’ll probably hear a lot of the same answers.



“Spend time with family.”


Now ask a college student what they like to do with their spare time.

“What spare time?”

However, that’s not the case for Kira Bowman, a college student at Youngstown State University (YSU) and a volunteer in our Youngstown market.

Kira’s been volunteering with us for almost five years and has really run the gamut of responsibilities.

“I’ve fulfilled a few roles as a volunteer here at Mercy Health, but I find volunteering in the emergency department to be the most rewarding,” she says. “In part because I know that through keeping those rooms stocked, and making clean beds, I am helping with the little things. So then the health care professionals can provide the best patient care possible.”

When she’s not volunteering, you can find Kira doing things most college kids like doing – being involved in two student organizations, working, being the finance manager for Guinathon where “we raise funds year-round for a children’s hospital” as well as serving as the vice president for a STEM sorority.

See? Lots of spare time.

And if that wasn’t enough, Kira also took a remarkable step forward when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“I started working on the YSU SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Project from its beginning on our campus in the spring of 2021,” Kira says. “The head of the laboratory, Dr. Cooper, approached me and two others to see if we would be interested.”

She continues, “prior studies have shown that a community’s health can be monitored through wastewater-based epidemiology. These community-based concepts have been used to monitor the levels of COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) from five YSU residence halls. If the results of this data indicate consecutive spikes in SARS-CoV-2 levels within the wastewater, YSU will implement mitigation policies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These policies inform the residents of said spikes and offer voluntary testing for everyone.”

To collect this data, auto sampling machines are scheduled to gather small amounts of wastewater over a 24-hour period, twice a week. The wastewater is then brought to the biomedical research lab on campus and tested. These results thus far have been useful in predicting COVID-19 case trends in YSU housing, thereby allowing successful mediation procedures to be implemented.

“Overall, this has been an amazing college experience that I would have never expected to be a part of as an undergraduate,” Kira adds. “I’m also very grateful for the amazing opportunity to attend the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) conference where I was awarded second place for my research poster. “

Our teams of volunteers are selfless individuals bonded together by their desire to help the greater good. No matter what they’re doing or where they are, we’re proud that they’ve chosen to spend their time with us and our patients. We hope they find the experience as rewarding as we find them.

“Volunteering has helped me solidify the path I am taking in college. It’s also provided motivation and encouragement for me to keep pursuing the career path I have chosen.”

Learn about our volunteer opportunities as well as the health care services we offer at Mercy Health.

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