Regis Rises

When COVID-19 struck, Regis found creative ways not just to survive, but to serve


It took only days for everything to change. On our campuses, the emerging threat of COVID-19 forced classrooms to empty, doors to be locked, and gathering places to become off-limits. While 160 students found shelter on the Northwest Denver Campus, most students, staff and faculty went home, and we had to find ways to be together, separately. So, just as we had in the fall when a cyberattack pulled the plug on our electronic communication, the Regis community dug into its resourcefulness reserves. 

Distant physically but not in spirit, we Zoomed in on virtual ways to conduct classes and hold meetings. We showed off everything from graduation gowns to senior projects on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and any other platforms we could find. Cura personalis took on a new urgency. We shared our survival strategies, our creativity and, sometimes, our frustrations. And though far apart, we came together — bringing our talents with us — to help each other and the people around us.

In an academic year that brought two potentially devastating blows, the Regis community persevered. We survived, we thrived and we served.


Here are just a few of the ways we did that:


Celebrating 2020 Grads

Regis President Rev. John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J., in full graduation regalia, stood on an empty Northwest Denver Campus to offer social media video congratulations to the (temporarily at least) ceremony-deprived class of 2020. Professors, deans and staff — from their homes, backyards, couches, and in one case, a trampoline — joined in to celebrate graduates’ hard work.



Noteworthy Production

When they couldn’t perform together in person, members of the Regis String Orchestra played their violins and cellos in bedrooms, living rooms and apartments throughout Denver and beyond. The resulting two minutes and 42 seconds of Camille Saint Saens’ “The Swan” — and the other pieces the orchestra performed and posted — brought interludes of beauty to our community at a time when it was urgently needed.


A 3D Solution

Making art may normally be her forte, but in these not-normal times, fine arts instructor Judith Gardner dedicated herself — and her 3D printer — to Make4Covid. By late May, Gardner estimated she’d printed about 100 elastic headbands, or “ear-savers” for masks and face shields. But she pointed out, “The true power of this grassroots effort is the number of people volunteering and the exponential numbers of pieces of PPE they have all been able to create.”



Care for the Whole Person – At Home

Exercise. Keep to a schedule. Limit the scary news you ingest daily. Connect, however you can. Good advice anytime; essential wisdom in the time of COVID. Betsy Hall, associate dean in the Division of Counseling and Family Therapy shared those insights in an online presentation, “Soulcare in Troubled Times.”


Masking the Problem

Lyn Tran, of the Regis Dayton Memorial Library’s Access Services, was just one of many community members who took up a new hobby during the pandemic quarantine: sewing masks. As a colleague posted on Instagram: “Lyn has spent the last 6 weeks sewing masks. This is what she had to say about the process: ‘It’s not that hard. I watched how people made them on YouTube,... I’ve made more than 600 masks for nurses, homeless people, vulnerable workers, families, friends, churches... and for us too. ‘I love sewing, so I enjoy doing it and I also feel good to help protecting people from this dangerous virus.’”



Postcards from China

Last November, Regis grad Beau Vrbas went to Dalian, China, and experienced the cultural immersion he’d sought — and a lot more. In one of several YouTube videos, Vrbas describes uncertainty as the virus hit, gratitude for the McDonald’s where he ate every day for a month, then guides viewers through deserted streets in the port city of 7 million.

Hands-On Homework

Giving students the full experience of a lab class through a computer screen can be tough to pull off. But Associate Professor of Pharmacy Erika Lourenco de Freitas made sure her students got as close to the actual hands-on experience as possible. Before her first online lab, she assembled kits — and set up a safe drive-through distribution system — containing materials that allowed students to try at home the skills she had to teach online.



Three Cheers!

They couldn’t walk across the graduation stage in their caps and gowns, but they could walk over to their computers, and that’s exactly what members of the Regis neonatal nurse practitioners class of 2020 did. And gave themselves a round of applause — or bloody Marys — in the process.