Irvine biology students relocate to Washington to help with COVID-19 testing

The Concordia University Irvine students are both still doing a full load of school work online. But they're also working at the lab full time.
School campuses may be closed, but two Irvine students decided to use their knowledge from school in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

About a month ago, biology students Hannah Hopkins and Anna Chao learned the pandmeic was forcing Concordia University Irvine to cancel classes. Four days later, they were on a plane to the University of Washington to help process samples for testing.

"Being able to help was primarily the driving factor in us coming up here," said junior Chao.

"Getting to do something, instead of just sitting in my room doing homework and then nothing else," agreed Hopkins, a graduating senior at Concordia.

They're both still doing a full load of schoolwork online. But they're also working at the lab full time.

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"We're just in charge of making sure the process is tracked and so everyone knows where each sample is and then making sure it's prepped for whoever is going to take it," said Chao.

They say it's an eye opening experience to have this role in the middle of a global pandemic.

"There (are) days where it's overwhelming but there is this sense of purpose when you're in the lab because you are getting all of these patient samples and you want be the reason why they have a good result and a quick result outcome. I would hate to be the reason why someone gets a false positive," said Hopkins.

It's a life experience they say Concordia prepared them for.

"They're teaching us values and encouraging us to help. So it's not just, hey I know, I understand what is going on - the science behind it, but also I understand that there's a need right now and I'm equipped to do it, so I should do it," said Chao.

"I think that's a really important part of a science education, is not just the facts, but like how does this apply to life and how you act," Hopkins said.

Biology professors at Concordia advised them before deciding to go, knowing how great of an opportunity it would be. They say they couldn't be more proud.

A graduation ceremony was scheduled for May 2nd, but it's been postponed to possibly August. Until then, the university does plan to recognize the Class of 2020 with a virtual closing convocation on May 2nd.
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