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UW College of Health Sciences Students, Volunteers Commemorate Campus Vaccination Effort

June 28, 2022
two people holding a display made of empty vaccine vials
From left, UW College of Health Sciences Dean David Jones and School of Pharmacy Dean Kem Krueger hold the college’s “vaccine bucking horse” display -- featuring about 500 emptied COVID vaccine vials -- outside the College of Health Sciences Building. The backside of the display is autographed by everyone who helped create it. (UW Photo)

Toward the close of the University of Wyoming’s COVID vaccination effort in spring 2021, students from the schools of Nursing and Pharmacy, along with college faculty members and health care workers from throughout Laramie, decided to create a display to commemorate UW’s vaccination effort.

The students and other volunteers anchored about 500 emptied vaccine vials to a wooden frame fashioned after UW’s iconic bucking horse and rider symbol.

Marcela Gramcko Wietstruck, a 2022 graduate of the School of Pharmacy, worked with other students to create the display.

“I was inspired by all of the hard-working volunteers, students, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals who were giving the vaccines at the clinic -- how many vaccines we were being given a day and the amazing community of Laramie coming in with happy faces to put in their effort and get immunized,” Wietstruck says. “It was one of the greatest examples of teamwork I have ever been part of, and I did not want it to go unnoticed.”

Wietstruck credits members of her pharmacy class, along with other volunteers, for helping to create the display.

“I have to thank Dr. Joe Russo, adjunct faculty with the School of Teacher Education, for helping me make the shape of Steamboat in wood,” Wietstruck says. “Also, I thank my classmates Danna Hanks, from Powell, Lauren Hinckley, from Lovell, and James Graber, from Rapid City, S.D., and Dr. Melissa Hunter for helping me collect all of the vials. And, of course, all of the volunteers, students and health care professionals who gave shots every day for many months; none of these could have been done without them.”

Hunter is the School of Pharmacy’s Drug Information Center director.

After the “vaccine bucking horse” display was completed in April 2021, all of the volunteers who helped assemble the vaccine display autographed its backside.

“The College of Health Sciences students were instrumental in establishing and operating the clinic, particularly in the early months,” says Kem Krueger, dean and an associate professor with the School of Pharmacy. “I enjoyed watching the students interact with personnel from Albany County Public Health, Ivinson Memorial Hospital, the volunteer nurses and the many volunteers from across the county.” 

A good portion of the success in getting much of the UW community vaccinated ahead of returning to in-person classes in fall 2021 is credited to Krueger and David Jones, retiring dean and professor in the College of Health Sciences. Their leadership helped organize vaccine distribution sites on and around campus and helped direct student and faculty volunteers in administering the vaccines.

Once it is placed in a secure frame for viewing, the vaccine display’s “forever home” will be in the College of Health Sciences Building.

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