BGSU dietetics senior provides familiarity for residents at area nursing home

Alicia Kouba: 'COVID-19 has opened my eyes and taught me how important it is to be prepared and remain calm'

Kouba Nurse

By Colleen Rerucha '06

Even as so much of Alicia Kouba’s life has changed in the last few weeks, she is steady in her commitment to serving some of the community’s most vulnerable.

The Bowling Green State University senior is from the Chicago area and when her final semester of classes went completely online, Kouba had the option of completing her senior year back home.

Instead, she chose to stay in Bowling Green because of her part-time job as a dietary aide at a local nursing home.

“I didn’t want to leave, especially during this time," Kouba said. "It’s been hard emotionally for the patients because their routines are off. When we get to work, we put a smile on every day for them.”

Kouba, a dietetics major  in the College of Health and Human Services , provides daily meals to residents, now personally delivered to their individual rooms instead of in a group dining setting.

“We are inspired by our students during these unprecedented times,” said Dr. Jim Ciesla, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “Not only have they embraced online learning, students like Alicia are taking what they’ve learned in the classroom and stepping up in their communities to serve those in need.”

When COVID-19 guidelines restricted visitors to the facility, Kouba knew she could bring a sense of familiarity to her patients.

“I talk with them when I deliver their meals,” Kouba said. “I ask about their families and how they’re doing. They know there is someone there who cares for them.”

While many people have transitioned to remote work, Kouba continues to report to the nursing home while taking extra precautions, including temperature checks and health screening questions.

“I want to work in health care the rest of my life. COVID-19 has opened my eyes and taught me how important it is to be prepared and remain calm.” Kouba said.

In addition to working during the pandemic, Kouba has also transitioned to taking all of her classes online. BGSU made the decision to move to virtual online learning based on state and federal guidelines to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus to safeguard students, faculty, staff and the broader community.

“It’s been different,” Kouba said. “Our professors have been very helpful and they have offered virtual hours so we can stay connected.”

Kouba will graduate in May and has already been accepted to graduate school through BGSU’s eCampus Food and Nutrition program.

While she plans to eventually move back to Chicago to complete the clinical training for her master's degree, Kouba is focused now on how she can make a positive impact during these uncertain times.

“I want to help," she said "I’m happy I can go to work and make a difference.”