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Husky Healthcare Heroes

Students, faculty and alumni working to keep communities healthy and safe during COVID-19

St. Cloud State University continues to have a hand in assisting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic both in the community and beyond.

To try and recognize and spotlight numerous students, alumni and faculty members serving on the front lines and in other facets to assist healthcare workers, St. Cloud State is calling for submissions to highlight those individuals as part of the Husky Healthcare Heroes campaign.

About Husky Healthcare
Heroes Campaign


St. Cloud State wants to recognize individuals throughout the state, country and world on social media who continue to work in keeping people healthy and safe in their communities.

Do you know a Husky you would like to publicly recognize for their work in assisting healthcare efforts? Post a photo, video or information on social media using the hashtag #huskyhealthcareHEROES to submit your recognition of those individuals.

Whether you would like to recognize healthcare workers at large, those specifically working on the front lines, or any other individuals who provide essential services, this campaign is meant to help spread the word on Huskies everywhere who continue to make a difference.

St. Cloud State’s nursing program has a history of preparing students with the necessary skills to address the changing needs of patients, families and communities across the continuum of healthcare.

Current students, graduates and faculty members are among the individuals throughout the community playing key roles in helping the fight against COVID-19.

“I’m deeply appreciative of the people that are willing to step forward and put their time, energy and skills into these roles,” said Associate Professor of Nursing, Dr. Roxanne Wilson. “As a faculty member, I can’t even tell you how much I enjoy seeing students and graduates developing their skills and living out professional practice.

“SCSU has graduates in ICU, public health, COVID units, leading vaccination initiatives and reaching out as community health workers to vulnerable populations," Wilson added. "Many of our current students work as nursing assistants in hospitals, long-term care or COVID testing centers. We have graduates working locally and internationally on COVID initiatives. It is really interesting to see the different facets students go into and how they influence the care in their community. St. Cloud State nursing is essential to the health of a community and key in the public health work of the pandemic”

Alumni flooding the front lines

Nicolette Leaders '16
According to the St. Cloud State Career Center’s most recent post-graduate data, 97 percent of graduates from the School of Health & Human Services have found employment after graduation. Of those graduates, 85 percent found jobs in Minnesota and 48 percent were employed within a 50-mile radius of St. Cloud State.

Some of the top employers St. Cloud State graduates hold jobs with include Allina Health, CentraCare Health, Fairview Health Services, Northern Pines Mental Health Center, Nystrom & Associates, Ltd., University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, University of Minnesota Health and more.

Currently, there are many St. Cloud State alumni working in healthcare fields, most recently tackling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID has made things busier. We’ve had to do and think differently than we had in the past,” said Nicolette Leaders ’16, BSN, a Vaccine and Medication Safety Nurse at CentraCare Health. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine doing something like this in my career.”

Working in healthcare is undoubtedly an important job, yet one that can be stressful and even scary at times. Dealing with COVID-19 over the last year has been the latest example of that.

Wyatt Orth '19

“It got pretty crazy when we had a few spikes in COVID numbers at the hospital. There was a time where some nurses started getting sick and it resulted in us running low on critical care nurses,” said Wyatt Orth ’19, a BSN, RN at St. Cloud Hospital who began working on the ICU floor in June of 2019.

“One of the scariest things at first was no one really knew what was going on with the virus and how deadly or severe it can actually be. We were nervous to work with the virus,” Orth added. “A lot of people were also scared to bring that home to their kids or families. There were some nurses who would avoid their families for weeks and stay in hotels because they know someone immune compromised in their family. That was pretty scary at times.”

Leaders said she feels like there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for healthcare workers and community members fighting COVID-19. A big portion of that is due to the work being done by many throughout the healthcare field, including St. Cloud State alumni working on public health prevention, vaccinations and caring for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 using new evidence and science.  

“I feel honored to be a piece of the puzzle, to help and to be a part of the team,” Leaders said. “I feel as though St. Cloud State is vital. It made me where I am in the position I’m in today.”

Faculty assisting vaccination efforts

Over the last few months since COVID-19 vaccines have started to roll out, St. Cloud State nursing faculty members have signed up to assist in vaccination efforts in the community and throughout the state. 

In partnership with CentraCare, various counties and the Minnesota Department of Health, a handful of faculty have been working to administer vaccines, which has resulted in working over winter break and the holiday season while passing up time with family on evenings and weekends.

Dr. Roxanne Wilson

“It was great to see the overwhelming response and willingness of the faculty to come and vaccinate,” Leaders said. “When we asked them what their ability was to work, they were willing to work evening and weekends and whatever it was, they were willing to do it. That was so awesome.”

Some of the nursing faculty that jumped on board to assist in the vaccination efforts include Wilson, Dr. Jane Bagley, Dr. Amy Hilleren-Listerud, Veronica Chapp and faculty emeriti Sue Herm, working alongside the extended list of St. Cloud State alumni already working to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Wilson helped recruit registered nurses throughout the region to assist with vaccination distribution, including the St. Cloud State faculty, a faculty member from the College of St. Benedict and several retired nurses she knew.

Dr. Amy Hilleren-Listerud

“We were all able to get started relatively quickly and began vaccinating right before Christmas,” Wilson said. “I pulled that initial group together and in addition to that, I have worked with CentraCare to help as I can and as a volunteer with Minnesota Responds for the county and the state. The response from healthcare workers and patients has been touching.”

Hilleren-Listerud is another example of a faculty member who helped in the initial launch of the vaccines, assisting in starting up that process for CentraCare employees in December.

“It felt like a way to give something back to our community and take a proactive step against COVID-19,” said Amy Hilleren-Listerud, Assistant Professor of Nursing. “We are all extremely proud and humbled by the gratitude expressed by the vaccination recipients.”

There are many St. Cloud State individuals — our Husky Healthcare Heroes — who have continued to make a difference in the community and beyond, providing another example of just how essential the University and its students, faculty and alumni are.