UArizona students help make masks because it's 'the right thing to do'

The students hope that their gesture doesn’t end with them and hope that others can serve their community in similar capacities.

Students at University of Arizona give back by making masks for health care professionals in a time of need

Students at the University of Arizona are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, like many university students across the country. While many students have used their time to advocate for measures like universal pass/fail grading systems, some students began making masks for the healthcare personnel fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. 

A group of ten students from the University of Arizona School of Theater, Film, & Television is making masks for health care professionals. The gesture comes after Arizona hospitals called for support from the community. 

To date, the ten students have made a significant number of masks with one student having already completed 80 on their own. The students do not plan to stop anytime soon according to UArizona Associate Vice President of External Communications Pam Scott.

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“There are 10 students working on making the masks and one has made about 80 already,” Scott told Campus Reform, “The students said that they will continue making masks as long as there is a need.”

According to the university, the students have delivered their masks to Banner - University Medical Center Tucson, which has used the masks in multiple units, including trauma and intensive care.

Scott also told Campus Reform that many others have requested masks from the students. 

“The school also has been contacted by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and the Tucson Police Department Emergency Response Team, as well as multiple assisted living communities, veterinarian’s offices, and others with requests for masks,” said Scott.

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One of the students spearheading the project is Rachel Wilks, a Masters student studying Fine Arts. Wilkins tells UArizona News that this project has given her a “renewed purpose.” 

”Finding out that I can help those who actually can do something was an enormous relief and has given me a renewed purpose,” Wilkins said. “The skills I have learned through my years of school have given me the tools I need to make these masks, and donating them lets us show those combating COVID-19 that we are thankful to help them in any way we can.” 

In addition to being contacted by many health professionals in need, the students were featured on NBC 4, a Tucson local news station.

Ryan B. Moore, a Masters of Fine Arts student involved in the project told NBC 4 that he and his colleagues are doing it because they feel it is the right thing to do. 

“We’re doing it because it’s kind of the right thing to do,” Moore said, “there’s a need for it and we have the time and ability.”

Others involved include Masters of Fine Arts student Elizabeth Eaton and manager of the school’s costume shop, Maryan Trombino-Arthur. 

UArizona News reports that the masks are “shell-style” with dual layers, meaning they can fit over surgical masks or N95 respirators. The team is also working on publishing a tutorial on how to make these masks, so others can give back as well. 

Faculty at UArizona stress the importance of the project’s service to Arizona health professionals expressing that this act of service doesn’t have to end with the students in UArizona’s School of Theatre, Film & Television.

When asked about this project, Hank Stratton, artistic director of the Arizona Repertory Theatre in the School of Theatre, Film & Television, told UArizona News, “We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in a time of crisis, and hope we can set the stage for others to do the same.”

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