For Gina Longo and her two daughters, College of Marin (COM) is a family affair.
Gina works in Enrollment Services, her daughter Isabel Murrin is currently a COM student double-majoring in sociology and Spanish, and her older daughter Milly Murrin just completed the Registered Nursing program.
Gina began her journey with COM twenty-two years ago, inspiring her daughters to attend, and she thrives in an environment where she is able to support students throughout their educational journeys. “I love when I can connect with a new student and let them know that I am here for them,” said Gina.
In addition to being a full-time employee, Gina is also enrolled in a sculpture and an art history class while COM’s campus facilities are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in the challenging times of the county’s shelter-in-place order, she has been able to continue and excel in her classes, attributing her success to COM. “The faculty really stepped up and figured out how to adapt their classes to remote learning. My sculpture teacher, Patricia Hulin, made appointments for us to pick up supplies in order to continue working at home. We even had a live model via zoom for figure sculpture,” said Gina.
Gina has always been inspired by the students she encounters through the many events COM holds each year. “One of my favorite events is College Success Saturday (CSS) held each year in early May. It’s a day for graduating high school seniors to attend orientation, get counseling, and gain priority enrollment for summer and fall classes. In assisting students, I usually end up with a few who then feel comfortable reaching out to me whenever they have questions throughout their entire time at COM,”
Gina said. Given the ongoing pandemic, CSS took place virtually this year on Saturday, May 2, receiving so many inquiries from incoming students that the event lasted until 8 p.m.
Gina’s daughter Milly, who has been a student at the college on and off for the past 10 years, has taken multiple tracks to earn her nursing degree and feels it's the strong sense of community COM has provided that helped her get this far. “I would have to say, my favorite thing about College of Marin is all of the support I have been given throughout my educational journey. No matter what sub-community I was a part of, I was always welcomed with open arms and always given support.”
As a student ambassador, Gina’s daughter Isabel was involved with CSS, too. “I had a really good time talking to everyone, but experiences like this specifically remind me of why I love working in Outreach so much!” said Isabel.
The stay-at-home order has not hindered the trio from reaching out to help others. Both within and outside of COM, Gina, Isabel, and Milly spent their newfound free time giving back and helping others in the community.
The flexibility in her schedule from working remotely allows Gina to volunteer her time with Dine11, a service that originally began with a mission to deliver food to healthcare and community workers during the COVID-19 crisis, but has since expanded to accept donations for necessities, including toilet paper, shampoo, baby wipes, and other necessities to create weekly care packages.
Isabel, along with other members of the COM Outreach Team, are creating a virtual campus tour for incoming students so they can get familiar with the college before they set foot on campus, as in-person tours are not currently an option. The tour features student ambassadors sharing information about different resources COM offers, personal experiences they’ve had, and giving incoming students the inside scoop on their favorite classes and sports on campus.
The stay-at-home order halted Milly’s nursing preceptorship, interfering with how she would complete her direct contact patient care hours required to graduate. Following a huge wave of disappointment and uncertainty which intensified after many nursing programs in the Bay Area decided to stop all instruction, the program director and dean of health sciences, Sharon Goldfarb, did not see that as an option for nursing students in the College of Marin program. She was able to coordinate options for the students to sign up for clinical opportunities, one being the COVID-19 testing site run by Marin Health and Human Services where Milly found her place, swabbing patients who were Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) of having COVID-19.
“Volunteering at the COVID-19 testing site was an amazing experience. Marin Health and Human Services created an exemplary task force to take on this project. The patients were so grateful; many thanked us through their fearful tears. It was very touching and moving,” said Milly.
While the whole family enjoys supporting the college, the community, and each other during these unprecedented times, the longing to get back to a sense of normalcy remains. “It has been a struggle without the familiar parts of my everyday life, but luckily I have a really amazing family that has been very helpful during this time,” said Isabel. Similarly, Milly longs to return to complete her nursing program. “I still struggle with all of the uncertainty, as I’m sure many do, in this unprecedented time. I do feel particularly grateful to be a part of a community that values education, science, and cares for other human beings.”
Adapting to a new ‘normal’, Gina remains thankful that her job at COM can be done remotely and for the wide variety of webinars and events COM offers virtually to both employees and students. However, she’s ready to be permanently back on campus. Gina reflects, “I always thought that it would be great to work from home, but I really miss the social interactions with colleagues and students. I look forward to spending time with family and friends again. I miss gathering for special occasions, but I miss just the impromptu get-togethers even more.”