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K-State Today

April 14, 2023

Project creating engaged learning experiences for K-State students

Submitted by Mirna Bonilla

Sakshi Bhati, project lead, and Johnna Tumberger, Strategic Communication intern, speak with other K-State students at the "Why I Vax" table event in the K-State Union.

A collaborative project between Immunize Kansas Coalition, or IKC, K-State Research and Extension, and K-State students aims to bring vaccine confidence to Kansas communities through student storytelling. But equally important is the engaged learning experiences K-State students are gaining throughout the project.

Sakshi Bhati, project lead of "Vaccinate with Confidence: Why I Vax" and doctoral candidate in the leadership communication doctoral program, describes how through this engagement, student interns are getting exposed to various opportunities.

"Student interns are working with various stakeholders to promote vaccine use on campus and in the community," Bhati said. "They are exploring communicative opportunities to build and sustain stakeholder relationships along with creating vaccine outreach that resonates with students."

Johnna Tumberger, a senior in mass communications and strategic communication intern, is one of two students who is working on developing social media and campus presence to encourage vaccine use among families and communities through the lens of K-State students.

"Being a student at K-State has taught me so much about the importance of community and with IKC, community health is at the forefront," Tumberger said. "[Through the partnership with IKC and KSRE] I have learned that communication is key whether it is in the way we communicate as a group or how we are able to get our messages across to students."

Bhati and her team are providing opportunities for K-State students to share their vaccine stories through tabling events, learn about vaccines through a teaching module, as well as participate in influencer engagement to become a part of the project.

"The collaboration has allowed for access to research, funding, and expertise from both organizations, which has been instrumental in the success of the project," said Janvi Aggarwal, graduate student in mass communications and strategic communication volunteer. "I have gained insights into the importance of community engagement, the value of storytelling, and the impact of public health initiatives. The partnership has demonstrated the power of teamwork and how it can lead to positive outcomes for the community."

Through this project, the K-State community is participating in conversations that aim to create impact and change. "This health communication initiative is exemplary of the collaborative efforts in promoting public health and improving health outcomes. We are engaging our students in sharing and understanding how vaccines keep our families and communities safe" states Bhati.

For more information, please contact Bhati at sbhati@ksu.edu to visit their next "Why I Vax" table event location.

There will also be a webinar open to the public, Vaccine Fears Overturned by Facts — Student Perspectives, hosted by IKC  and will feature speakers from KSRE, the Office of Engagement, and K-State students on April 28th from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Additional details and registration to come!