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Grad Student COVID Testimonials: XU Center for Population Health

Ellie Borders and José Polanco, M. Ed. have been working to create and disseminate the most accurate and up-to-date information about COVID to the community.

Apr 21, 2022

José Polanco, M. Ed. and Ellie Borders

The Health Collaborative has partnered with the Xavier Center for Population Health to keep the community up to date on COVID-19 information and resources.

José Polanco, M. Ed. and Ellie Borders

We were fortunate to speak with and learn more about the roles of two Xavier University Clinical Psychology graduate students working at the Xavier Center for Population Health, Ellie Borders and José Polanco, M. Ed.


Q: Hello José and Ellie! Let’s start with your roles at the Xavier Center for Population Health: what do you do there?

José: As a cohort leader for Dr. Victor Ronis-Tobin’s team, I collaborated with fellow psychology students to create a survey examining attitudes on the hesitancy to vaccinate from COVID-19 in individuals who are unvaccinated and/or have contracted COVID-19 in the past, which was then translated into Spanish and distributed at various community health events.

Ellie: As part of my first-year experience at Xavier, I was paired with Dr. Victor Ronis-Tobin at the Center for Population Health to collaborate as a student research assistant and volunteer. I have had the opportunity to work on several projects across several domains, from COVID-19 research to data analysis on a community sample from Norwood. More recently, my team and I have been working on updating documents on information about COVID-19.

Q: How did you become interested in Clinical Psychology?

Ellie: I decided to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology because of my passion for mental health and my desire to help others flourish so that they can reach their full potential. This field also satisfies my desire to be a lifelong learner, as there is always some new knowledge to be acquired through new research!

José: Working for the Neurobehavioral Research Team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital really peaked my clinical interest in the field of psychology. Collaborating with them to assess, intervene and treat the children was mind-blowing, and invigorated me to pursue clinical psychology. My medical background and my psychological interests combined perfectly when working with the Xavier Center for Population Health.

Q: How has your work at the Xavier Center for Population Health had in impact on your community?

José: I have helped create, revise, and translate various documents on COVID-19 for Hamilton County Public Health, from explaining symptoms of COVID versus the flu, to information on vaccinations in small children. Working with The Health Collaborative on this impactful work that directly affects the health of the community and improving health literacy resources for marginalized communities has given me immense pride.

Ellie: Working on updating documents on information about COVID-19 for The Health Collaborative has been very valuable and rewarding work. Allowing this information to be available to everyone in the community is really important so that people can continue to stay informed about the current pandemic. Working on these documents has been a true privilege!


Ellie and José are just two of the many graduate students at XU working to address issues surrounding the pandemic, build community partnerships, and coordinate responses to needs across the region. The Health Collaborative is honored to participate in and support these learning opportunities for student research, service-learning, and involvement in population health initiatives.

To learn more about Xavier University’s Center for Population Health, click here. To stay up to date on the latest testing and vaccination locations and resources, visit us at

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