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Honors Graduate Profile: Meet Ellie Decker, Nursing Major and Documentary Filmmaker

| Deyne Yarrington

Honors student and soon-to-be-graduate Ellie Decker is a nursing major with a Spanish for Health Professions minor. She is also a member of the UWEC softball team, and serves as the Vice President on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

Although she is currently still a student, Ellie has already accumulated a plethora of real-world experience in the nursing field. She has worked on the front lines of the COVID-19 relief effort as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and her firsthand witnessing of how COVID affects both the sick and their loved ones was a major catalyst for the future research she would conduct into COVID response and vaccine response, both on an international and domestic level.

Ellie believes that a nursing background brings a unique outlook to research on the response to COVID. She believes that nurses have a unique sense of care, consideration, and genuine care for other people that is critical in times of crisis, like the current pandemic. In fact, at the very beginning of the pandemic crisis, Ellie says that her nursing profession was called into action, and that she immediately thought, “What can I do to help?” 

Going into these projects, some of Ellie’s goals were to honor the efforts of frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, to use storytelling and interviews to gain an in-depth understanding of people's experience, and also to explain what everyone can do to help. 

Ellie has worked on other projects within this realm of research, particularly her collection of 4 short videos she created with a classmate for her Honors 188: Critical Issues in Global Health course, a project that explored the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in India. She presented her research for this project at the 11th Annual Provost’s Honors Symposium. 

However, she says that those projects were much more small-scale compared to her most recent one, which began as a final project for HNRS 191: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on COVID-19. During the process of creating this longer-form documentary video, she reached out to and spoke with multiple nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers on the frontlines in order to gain a more complete idea of how the local community has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because she began the project shortly after COVID vaccines became more readily available to the general public, Ellie also explored how the community has reacted to this new development, speaking with some of her nursing peers who worked at vaccine clinics. 

She began her project in March of 2021 and finished at the beginning of that May, and one of the biggest challenges of the project, she explains, was how much had changed in just that short amount of time. Even though she went into the project with an established plan, that plan ended up changing almost day-to-day as new information, data, and statistics regarding COVID cases and vaccination rates were released. 

Ellie explains that she came away from this project with a greater understanding of the multitude of perspectives that people have regarding the pandemic, as well as an appreciation of the respect and unity among people it has encouraged.

As she finishes up her final semester, Ellie’s time is filled by clinicals three days a week at Sacred Heart Hospital, as well as softball practice. She has also already accepted a nursing position at a hospital in Milwaukee after graduation. As they look forward to the future, Ellie and the nursing cohort she has grown extremely close to, are spurred on by the fact that the nursing and healthcare fields are always changing, and there is always something new to learn.

Ellie will be presenting her most recent documentary at Provost's Honors Symposium on Friday, April 29, 2022, at 1 pm in Chancellor's Room in Davies Center. View her documentary here