Student Leader Shifts Plans, But Stays Focused
Meet Callan Carnahan (D.C. ‘21)
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Undergrad degree: bachelor’s degree in history and philosophy of science, University of Pittsburgh
While completing an internship in anatomy as a premed student at the University of Pittsburgh, Callan Carnahan worked at the university's morgue. He was in charge of full-body cadaver donation, including receipt and storage of the bodies donated to science.
"It was the coolest thing I had ever done, working with the human body," Carnahan said. "I knew I had to have a career that had to do with anatomy."
After a short stint as a nursing student, also at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnahan switched to premed with the intent to study chiropractic. He wanted the ability to work more hands-on with patients.
Plans for More Student Get-togethers
Carnahan ultimately chose Northeast College of Health Sciences for its reputation as a top chiropractic school and its evidence-informed curriculum. Active from the moment he arrived on campus, he was elected as executive president of Northeast College's Student Government Association (SGA) in 2020 during his fourth trimester.
When Carnahan began his one-year term with the SGA, he was eager to help grow Northeast's annual Blue Day, an event known for its day-long activities, including a College-wide picnic and popular volleyball tournament. He envisioned adding a dunk tank to the event, facilitating a gathering at a local NY State Park and adding even more fun to the week-long Spirit Week at Northeast.
He was also considering a winter formal, another way to allow the campus community to come together, and sought ways to connect all of the College's student leaders. "We had talked to the group leaders and were so excited to connect forces and work together to get students involved," he said.
Keeping Students Connected
Carnahan's role and those of his SGA partners, Michaela Hogg (executive vice president) and Soudi Taha (executive secretary and treasurer), quickly changed in March 2020. He was home for a weekend when word of closures due to COVID-19 were quickly spreading amongst friends. That Monday, when he drove back to campus in Seneca Falls, students received word that the College would be moving into a remote stance.
Carnahan remembers the flood of text messages, phone calls and questions on his Facebook account. He knew his role as liaison between students, Senior Staff and faculty at the College was going to take on a more serious nature. He recalls Northeast President Michael Mestan reaching out within just a day or two.
"(Dr. Mestan) really kept us in the loop," said Carnahan. "We had meetings at least every other week all summer long. We even had an open forum with the entire SGA." Carnahan made special note of the faculty's role in the crisis, saying, "They were incredible and unbelievably understanding. They were selfless through all of it."
Carnahan and the other SGA leaders had an essential role in creating the Reopening Safety Plan for students to return to campus for the 2020-2021 school year. They also shared the student outlook and reactions to policies and procedures being put in place during the pandemic.
Looking back, Carnahan said, the tough decisions made at the College were in everyone's best interest and he believes they were the correct choices. "We made it through without a necessary shutdown and I think that speaks to the amount of planning put into making those decisions," he reflected.
Personally, Carnahan said, balancing his 52-hour course load and tutoring anatomy online while fulfilling his duties as SGA executive president may just have been his "Everest" -- his moment of facing new and unforeseeable challenges: "We accomplished a lot as a community and it was a huge sense of accomplishment." Those are moments and lessons, Carnahan said, that will stick with him throughout his career.