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Completing online courses, eating healthy and keeping up with her regimen isn’t all University of Illinois senior and Army ROTC Cadet Mariana Delgado has been focusing on these days.

When her college campus closed and switched over to online classes due to the COVID- 19 outbreak, Delgado didn’t hesitate to join the other health heroes responding to the pandemic to help out her community.

Delgado has been working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in Chicago transporting patients from hospitals, nursing homes and responding to 911 calls. She’s been one of the many people who have stepped up to be on the front line during the COVID-19 outbreak, and while it can be scary, she does not shy away from the mission.

“Being an EMT during this time has definitely been challenging, but rising to the task, especially in emergency medicine, is exactly what I had in mind when receiving my EMS license,” Delgado said.

It wasn’t until after Delgado enlisted as a combat medic in the Army that she was certified as an EMT during her Advanced Individual Training in 2018. Delgado says she was motivated to get certified as an EMT because she wanted to give back to her community and gain as much medical experience as possible.

Delgado admits that it’s not easy working an average of 40 hours a week as an EMT and balancing being a full-time college student in Army ROTC. She noted that it can be stressful at times and take a lot of time management, however, Army ROTC has taught her the leadership skills necessary to be an effective EMT during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[I keep] the Army values in mind when in the ambulance, responding to a call. The Army has always challenged my personal courage, but during the pandemic, it has truly been tested over and over by being on the front lines. I am grateful for the Army for preparing me to be the best version of myself in stressful situations,” Delgado said.

Balancing work and finding time for her studies during the pandemic hasn’t made things easy for Delgado, but she has tried to remain positive and find the silver lining of being an EMT during this time.

“Even behind layers of gloves, gowns and face masks, I have still been able to provide compassionate service to those in the city of Chicago and create a bond, with some, and that is unforgettable,” she shared.

Delgado plans to graduate from the University of Illinois this spring with a major in Integrated Health Studies and a concentration in behavioral health, and hopes to branch Medical Services in the Army. In the future, Delgado plans to apply for physician assistant school to pursue her dream of being a physician assistant.