In December 2020, alumna Jordan Tralins ’19 felt like there was a hole in her social media feed regarding the COVID-19 information shared by her age group - college students.
“It was not in my Instagram feed anywhere. Anything that was on Facebook or TikTok that I saw was false information.”
The Cornell University junior - who plans to pursue medicine with a focus on neurodiversity - decided to use her skills of medical research to share relatable content in bite-sized chunks with her peers on TikTok and Instagram. Information for the messaging comes from the CDC, WHO and the New England Journal of Medicine.
“I know how much time young people spend on their phones and on social media. It’s really our main source of information. That influences the way we feel and our biases. I tried to use a creative, theatrical way to provide factual information.”
Jordan and a fellow Cornell student created clear infographics and videos about COVID and the vaccines - which were new at the time - geared toward college students.
Seeing her content gain momentum online, Tralins expanded her outreach by creating a coalition of nearly 50 colleges and universities featuring similar content online. Her COVID Campus Coalition
was featured on CNN’s “Inside Politics”, BBC World News, “New York Times,” “Washington Post,” “USA Today,” Boston Globe’s “STATNEWS,” and NPR’s “All Things Considered” – among others.
“The Coalition can equip students with the facts so they can give those to other students. Because social media has become so prevalent, we should use it for a purpose. Because the platform exists we can really utilize it in even more powerful ways - various social and health related movements.”
Just nine months after her first COVID Campus Coalition Instagram post, Tralins hosted a national network of college students in a livestreamed conversation with “the nation’s doctor,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, about the state of vaccines and vaccine hesitancy. College students, Shorecrest Chargers, and other members of the public were invited to join the COVID Campus Coalition’s virtual discussion
in November 2021.
“It was supposed to just be a COVID vax chat,” Jordan explained, “but he talked a lot about the intersections between COVID and mental health for young people, about how Covid is impacting society as a whole.”
Dr. Murthy told the participants and viewers, “Things get better when people step up to say, ‘Let me be a part of the solution.’ We can be … so much more fulfilled when we look out for one another.”
Jordan is convinced she stumbled on an emerging media field. Through her work she was offered a job with the American Lung Association making videos for their Tiktok channel. “Public health groups are finding ways to use Tiktok to spread information in a more effective way. It’s something we’re doing on a small scale with the Coalition; and I predict that in the coming years it will become a more and more popular way of communicating.”
It’s hard to imagine this young scholar balancing rigorous pre-med coursework, being a chemistry TA, spending time outdoors as a trail running instructor and also managing the Coalition. But Jordan was the same way at Shorecrest - a Charger on the State Champion volleyball team
, founder of the SPARC service club
, acclaimed thespian
, and stand-out student.
It is a tradition at Shorecrest Commencement to name an Outstanding Senior. This honored member of the graduating class returns in ten years to speak at Commencement. Jordan Tralins was named the Outstanding Senior of the Class of 2019.
When asked if she had a quick note for the fifth graders who will be graduates when she returns to speak in 7 years, Jordan shared, “Explore! In Middle School you have the chance to start finding the things that excite you, whether that be academic or an activity. Go for it and try it out! You have so much left ahead of you. If you try something and it’s not for you… that’s awesome because you can redirect and try new things.”
Jordan recognizes that she did the same thing at Cornell when she started the COVID Campus Coalition. “I think it was really nice for me to be able to branch out and do something new, and also have the comfort of knowing there’s still a great community waiting for me back home as well.”
She reflects, “Academically, I came really prepared with a great foundation to take any course I wanted to at Cornell, which I feel really thankful for. What I learned at Shorecrest is directly tested on the MCAT. Remembering Mr. Hyink teaching it to me is more helpful right now for my MCAT preparation than some of my biology classes at Cornell.”
“I still really feel so supported by Shorecrest, it’s a lifelong thing. Knowing the school has been around for 100 years and has had this impact on other people as well is just so exciting.”