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Time to Serve

Two students discuss their roles in the National Guard’s pandemic response

When the Massachusetts Army National Guard was called to active duty in April to support of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the reserves were students studying at Bridgewater State University.

Two of those students, seniors Samantha Mulcahy and Joel Pollock, had to decide if they could balance school and service and commit to the voluntary activation.

Joel, a specialist in the reserves, will earn his accounting degree this summer. He determined he could balance his studies and opted to volunteer. His unit has been distributing personal protective equipment (such as face masks and shields), to local hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Other National Guard units have also been called to help quell riots that evolved from recent peaceful protests. 

Samantha is also a specialist with the Guard. A first-generation student who played on the BSU women’s softball team, worked part-time, and held down an internship while working toward two degrees, she knew volunteering would be too much.

“It was a very hard decision,” she said. “Of course I wanted to protect and serve my country and state in times of need, however, being so close to finishing school and earning my degrees, I could not do that to myself,” she said.

Since COVID-19 first appeared in Massachusetts, members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard have been assisting many of the state’s healthcare workers, providing COVID-19 tests and setting up triage stations.

“They are helping in anyway they can,” Samantha said.

Now that she has graduated from BSU with her degrees in criminal justice and psychology, the Taunton native is considering her options. She has been accepted into BSU’s Mental Health Counseling program but is also applying for other jobs.

With three years left on her contract, she plans to continue serving in the National Guard.

Joel also plans to continue his service.

“My main goal post-graduation is to continue my search for a job where I can grow in the field of accounting,” he said. “My other goals are to save up enough money to buy a house and get promoted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard.”

Wherever their paths lead, both agree that BSU helped them get to where they are and where they want to go.

“BSU has helped me prepare for the future through the many opportunities they provide such as career services, job fairs, mock interviews and formal dining training,” Joel said. “However, the most significant thing that has helped me prepare is the relationships I developed with faculty members.”

Samantha is looking forward to applying all has learned at BSU toward whatever her future holds.

“I have had a very busy schedule for the past four years and receiving these degrees is such an accomplishment to me,” she said.

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