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Jodi Carpenter

FDU Student Finds Ways to Help

Jodi Carpenter delivering groceries during the pandemic

ISHTM Grad Student Jodi Carpenter has found a way to safely be of service

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented hardship for many Fairleigh Dickinson University students. It is also true that many of those very same students have taken it upon themselves to care for members of their communities who are in need of assistance.

Master’s degree candidate Jodi Carpenter, currently enrolled in FDU’s prestigious International School of Hospitality Management, is one such student. Jodi, who is scheduled to receive her degree in May, has, like all FDU students, been finishing her final semester remotely. It is, she says, not optimum, but she is managing. “I tend to learn better in a classroom environment, but, using Zoom, we can still have a classroom discussion. It’s just a little harder to piggyback off each other’s ideas.” The crisis itself is informing some of those discussions, says Jodi. For example, in a class on tourism, the discussions have been centering on when or whether emerging tourism markets will be able to recover from the crash that the pandemic has precipitated.

Closer to home, Jodi’s found herself with a little extra free time during this crisis; she works as a graduate assistant in the Department of University Advancement, helping to plan University events, almost all of which have now been cancelled. Until the middle of March, she spent her weekends working in a restaurant that is closed because of the pandemic.

Because she comes from a family that values community service – her mother works for the charity Livestrong through the local YMCA, which has been marshalling resources to assist cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic – Jodi’s first impulse was to find a way to assist people around her at higher risk for infection.

Jodi, who has worked in food service for years, says that making sure that people have enough to eat is a big part of who she is. She realized that her parents’ neighbor needed some help, so she went grocery shopping for the elderly woman. From there, through social media, she discovered an hoc group of young adults in Hunterdon County who have been reaching out to neighbors in need to make sure that they have supplies to see them through the crisis. “When people come together and cooperate, we can make sure that the people around us have what they need,” she says.

Jodi says that she can trace her impulse to be of service to watching Mr. Rogers as a child. “Mr. Rogers told a story about himself that has stuck with me,” Jodi says. “He recalled being a boy and, when he would see scary things in the news, his mother would say to him, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

“I want to be a helper,” Jodi says.

Although she is young – 31-years-old – and healthy, Jodi says she and her friends have been keeping physical distance, but remain connected in myriad ways, thanks to technology. “My friends and I have been watching Disney movies and playing charades on Google Hangouts. In a weird way, my friends who live across the country and the world are getting closer together and realizing what is most important,” she says.