Everyday heroes


Fargo native Elizabeth Russell knows there are many ways to be a hero, big and small.

The medical laboratory sciences student in NDSU’s Allied Sciences program in the College of Health Professions found that volunteering in her community makes a difference. She combines her classes, hands-on experience in her field and giving back to others as she prepares for her future career.

As a lab technician assistant at a local hospital, Russell works in phlebotomy. She takes blood samples that can help medical teams determine patients’ diagnosis and treatment. She also works in specimen processing, readying blood, urine, bacterial swabs and other samples for technicians to perform tests.

“Working in the lab has always been my favorite part of school,” said Russell, “so this was a huge appeal for me. The content that I get to learn in my classes keeps me continuously interested. Within the lab, and any medical profession, there are many opportunities for further education and advancement as well.”

For two years previously, Russell volunteered at the Health Equipment Recycling Organization, known as HERO in Fargo. Her experience in medical lab sciences helped her familiarity with the types of medical devices that HERO supplies.

“Volunteering with HERO fit well with my interest in the medical field. Working in hospitals, we take for granted all of the supplies we use to help patients every day, and it was very eye opening to see the need for HERO in our community,” Russell said.

HERO gathers medical equipment through donations and redistributes it to those in need locally and internationally.

“I found volunteering for this organization very rewarding, knowing that the supplies that HERO receives can save lives. I have heard many testimonials from patients about how expensive medical equipment for home health can be, and HERO decreases this burden for many. They also distribute supplies to mission trips overseas. These supplies can save many lives, and I am very humbled to have been a part of that,” she said.

Russell knows first-hand how supplies that are available in a cost-effective manner can help others.

Her grandparents found HERO’s services helpful.

“It can be hard to buy brand new equipment for people knowing that they only need it for a short recovery period like my grandparents,” said Russell. “HERO is a great option because they are happy to take the equipment back as soon as you are done with it.”

Volunteering in any capacity, according to Russell, is very important for students in health professions.

“It gets you to explore outside of your specific major of interest and opens your eyes to the needs in your community. I would encourage everyone to look into the multiple organizations in Fargo that would love students to lend a hand,” said Russell.

After graduation in 2019, Russell hopes to secure a medical laboratory scientist position at a local health care facility in Fargo.

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