Student Stories: Sarah Bellak, OOMPH Spring 2020

My name is Sarah, and I am a registered nurse on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 in New York City. I am a Public Health graduate student at UC Berkeley and normally live in California. I signed up to be deployed on a 21 day assignment. I was given 48 hours to pack my belongings and respond to NYC. Thousands of nurses are arriving weekly, and in my cohort alone there are 550 nurses. Upon arrival, the nurses that responded get placed at a facility and shift at random, without prior experience taken into account- the need is so great in the city, that they do not have the time to put these details into consideration. I personally got placed on night shift, and now work 7pm to 7am every single day. The facility that I work in is filled almost entirely with agency staff like myself, as the regular staff have mostly all gone home sick with COVID-19. We never know what we are walking into on a shift, or if our assignments will suddenly change as the needs in the city change. This has definitely been an adjustment, and is hard work- we are all exhausted to say the least. Despite it all, I personally would rather be nowhere else. This pandemic has reaffirmed my need to be involved in public health, and I look forward to my classes that will teach me how I as an individual can get involved in our communities and have a positive impact, and learn about what needs to happen on a community and global level to protect the public against health crises such as this.

Sarah Bellak, Online MPH Spring 2020


To learn more about Berkeley Public Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the COVID-19 Resource Page.

To learn more about online academic programs at Berkeley Public Health, visit the Public Health Online program page.