“Masks?” and “Mental Health” are the first two videos in a COVID-19 educational series being produced by the Rutgers Global Health Institute Student Council. Leading the project—and combining her passions, medicine and the arts—is committee co-chair Laura Palm, a medical school graduate and current doctoral student at Mason Gross School of the Arts.


Rutgers students may be separated, physically, because of COVID-19 restrictions, but they remain connected through online communities. Whether they’re socializing or learning, checking in on grandparents, or watching videos and producing their own, college students are engaging in technology-driven virtual activities more than ever before.

Recognizing the pros and cons of this new normal, graduate student Laura Palm and the Rutgers Global Health Institute Student Council global health education committee are producing a video series, titled COVID-19 101, to help provide easy-to-understand and reliable information about the pandemic by using popular interfaces such as iMovie, YouTube, Zoom, and Instagram.


Video Series Launches With “Masks?” and “Mental Health” Episodes

Palm, the committee’s co-chair, is spearheading the video project and partnering with people around the university to make it happen. A violinist, Palm is pursuing a doctor of musical arts degree in performance at Mason Gross School of the Arts. She also studied medicine at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany. After graduating with an M.D. degree, she postponed her residency education in order to further her musical ambitions in the United States. She envisioned a medical career working with injured musicians and hoped to later enroll in a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency program.

On what motivated her to create this video series, which also can be viewed on YouTube, she says: “I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my family, friends, and students in school, who say they are confused about all the information that’s out there about COVID-19, which is changing all the time. We came up with this video series as a way to distribute relevant information through social media and create a dialogue. We want people to submit questions they might have.”

Palm has found natural collaborators in the arts community at Mason Gross. Her roommate, viola player Yehezkel Layoun, stepped in to the spotlight as co-host of the “Masks?” episode, and Mason Gross students have volunteered their video editing skills. For the “Mental Health” episode, Palm interviewed Wil Vargas, a counselor at Rutgers Student Health’s Counseling, Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program, and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) division.

In the works is a third video about breathing exercises as recommended by a physical therapist.