ARLINGTON, V.a. — On Wednesday, hundreds of students were able to enjoy an in-person graduation ceremony at Washington Liberty High School in Arlington. And one student helped make this day possible.
“When COVID first started I was pretty scared of it,” said Alana McBride. “I was scared of this virus. I took it very seriously.”
Before graduation, McBride spent countless hours convincing her classmates to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I was making sure if vaccines were available for some of my friends, they were going to be able to get it and access it,” she said. "I was very compelled by the thought that I want to be able to see my friends in the future, I want to make sure my friends are healthy, and the community is healthy, and their family is healthy in the future.”
In May 2021, a Morning Consult poll indicated Generation Z adults and Millennials are the generations most likely to say they are not planning to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
McBride said convincing her peers to get the vaccine has been tough at times.
“Teenagers often see themselves as invulnerable,” said McBride. “The hesitancy is in their invincibleness. I try to combat that by saying 'you have family and friends who are not invincible, and you are giving them a shield by getting vaccinated.”
At 18-years-old, McBride is the youngest volunteer at Arlington County vaccination centers. Some days she works 12-hour volunteer shifts to help vaccination sites, like the one at Walter Reed Community Center, operate smoothly.
“I’m energized,” she said. “I always find myself super excited. Every person who gets vaccinated almost has this sense of joy after they get it because they’re able to see their friends and they‘re able to see their family."
Charlotte Ruffine is on the debate team with McBride.
“In our debate team group chat she would always send information about vaccines and programs happening," said Ruffine. "She was really good at keeping us informed. I think she’s been really driven about getting us involved in vaccines and getting us to know when vaccines are happening."
Ruffine said McBride has been instrumental in helping get her classmates vaccinated.
“She’s very dedicated at getting people vaccinated," added Ruffine. "She’s really good at pushing through with it. And if someone was kind of hesitant she would be very good at 'this is why you should' 'I can help you with it'. She made a big impact with it.”
Now that’s she’s graduated high school, McBride says her next step is to pursue a career in public health policy at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.
“I really want to make an impact in other peoples’ lives,” said McBride. “I wanted to make sure the people I was surrounding myself with and my community in general were going to be protected going into 2021.”