When Madelyn Ho joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2015, she was smack in the middle of medical school at Harvard. Instead of quitting, she simultaneously juggled school and company demands until graduating in May 2018. But she held off on pursuing a residency until after her dance career, and hadn't had a chance to practice medicine yet in any formal capacity. Then the pandemic hit.
In January, she began volunteering at two vaccination sites in New York City. She's picked up various roles, and spends the majority of her time helping run the vaccine floor—making sure vaccinators have the supplies they need, trouble-shooting, watching to keep any doses from getting wasted, answering questions and translating to and from Mandarin, and making sure people feel okay after getting their shots.
"Being able to help in this way has been really wonderful," she says. "People are coming in from all kinds of backgrounds, and with all kinds of emotions. But there's this great feeling of camaraderie that we're in this together—which is why I keep going back and volunteering!"
She puts in 12 to 14 hour shifts on many Saturdays and Sundays, even as PTDC has ramped up to a regular weekday rehearsal schedule.
Although this is the first time she's officially using her MD, she says her medical background has often come in handy, whether it's answering her colleagues' questions about when they should get that X-ray or being able to help family and friends suss out misinformation about COVID-19.
Madelyn Ho, MD
For any dancers concerned about the vaccine, she reminds them that it's a smart thing to ask questions and get all the information. "With this vaccination, it may feel like this new technology, but years of work has gone into this research—which is actually why these vaccines were able to be developed so quickly," she says.
Ho says that being on the frontlines of the vaccine rollout is especially meaningful to her as a dancer. "As this point, in the U.S.," she says, "the vaccine is our means of getting back into theaters and to being able to perform."