Woman Wednesday Series: Laurel Glover
Laurel Glover is an assistant professor of public health in the College of Health Sciences at Charleston Southern University and a doctoral candidate. For the last year, she has led the University Pandemic Task Force as the infection control/COVID-19 coordinator.
Glover’s personal experience in the early days of the pandemic prepared her for this role. She worked in New York City on the frontlines as a respiratory therapist.
“The death and sorrow encountered in the hospital was palpable,” Glover said of her frontline experience. “Patients were without a voice; their families were absent and often their ability to interact was also absent or impaired, leaving them completely isolated. It would have been easy to become hopeless in such a situation. However, these patients needed a voice.”
Glover set out to be that advocate for them and to hold their hand at the end of their lives.
“I was immensely privileged to have the opportunity to fulfill each of these roles for a variety of patients. It was an experience which has affected me deeply and for which I am exceptionally grateful,” she said.
Upon her return to CSU, she began the day-to-day tasks of viewing LiveSafe screenings as well as quarantine and isolation assessments. She works with a team of faculty and staff to pour over each event on and off campus, assessing risk factors, ultimately approving or denying dependent on said risk. Much of what came with this role was surprising to her.
“I had no idea that I would be in a position to represent CSU so publicly via media, communication and community representation. It’s perhaps also the most intimidating aspect of the job for me,” said Glover.
Originally from Seattle, Washington, Glover has lived in California and Guam prior to her life in Charleston. Her passion for public health was slightly unconventional. She began working as a respiratory therapist in a hospital, where she was exposed to the world of global health. Glover pursued a master’s in global health and, after her children grew older, she decided to move into a university teaching setting.
Glover’s favorite part of the global health field is mission trips—something that set her on the career path she now follows. She said her goal is to serve in a way that will benefit the community most profoundly.
“First and foremost, Jesus demonstrated love to others. Matthew 9:36 states, ‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,’” she explained. “Throughout my life, I have strived to demonstrate this character trait through my thoughts, words and actions. One of the most effective ways I have found to visibly demonstrate this compassion is to tend to the physical needs of those who have fewer resources than I.”
Glover recommends all undergraduate students to participate in study abroad or international volunteer work.
“No matter the setting, whether in a makeshift clinic on a Honduran hillside, an intensive care unit on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, a converted schoolroom in a Dominican bateye, or a crumbling hospital in rural Kazakhstan, I have been blessed with many opportunities to show consideration for individuals and communities,” Glover said, reflecting on her own faith experience.
Glover said that faith leads to empathy. “I believe that God has placed me in these situations not only to allow me to build relationships which lead to sharing the Gospel, but also to allow me to grow in my own faith, developing a better understanding of how compassion and humility are among the most Christlike characteristics one can possess.”
When not teaching or traveling, Glover enjoys admiring the arts and spending time with her children and dogs. Her overall hope for everyone during the pandemic is to look for the positive in everything.
“We really can get through challenging circumstances, but it requires a lot of collaboration and a lot of understanding,” she said. “Pre-COVID, I don’t believe that the average citizen even knew what public health was. The increased visibility and recognition for the field has been one silver lining of the pandemic. Often, public health is mistakenly considered to be synonymous with clinical care and that’s just not the case. They’re equally important, but one deals with the health of an individual while the other seeks to achieve health equity and wellness for populations.”
Jenna Johnson is assistant director of integrated marketing for Charleston Southern University. Jaynae Jefferson is a senior public health major and a CSU Brand Ambassador.