Carson Peters ’20

Thinking globally, acting locally.

Carson Peters '20

Carson Peters ’20 thanks essential workers with card-writing campaign.

When Carson Peters ’20 returned home to College Park, Maryland, the biology of global health major had plenty of activities on her plate. She’s completing her Master of Public Health degree (through the University of Iowa), and is applying to Ph.D. programs in global health.

“I’m passionate about serving communities,” says Peters, who traveled to India, South Africa, and Brazil her junior year to study infectious diseases and the global public health landscape.

But in this current environment, where so many aspects of life have changed, Peters is thinking globally and acting locally by showing gratitude to the essential workers serving her community.

Essential Card Campaign Logo

In June, she launched Essential Cards Campaign, a card-writing campaign to thank essential workers in College Park. “I’m a global public health student, and the importance of working with community and being invested with local community is part of that,” says Peters. “Their contributions are integral to our lives and their efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed. They put their health and safety at risk.”

Peters collects handwritten notes from the community (she has suggested messages), and she writes her own notes, then packages them in an Essential Cards envelope and ribbon. She’s hand-delivered them to workers at restaurants, gas stations, banks, grocery stores, and to postal workers and employees at the local Department of Public Works. Since June she’s distributed approximately 300 cards.

“Sharing gratitude and fostering community ties is important,” explains Peters, who also is working as a contact tracer for the Maryland Department of Health. At Grinnell, she served as a class ambassador for four years, a tour guide, and also tutored and mentored in local schools. She’s currently a class agent.

A photo of Taylor Gaskins ‘20, left, and Carson Peters ’20 was shown during the Posse Scholars virtual graduation ceremony in June.
A photo of Taylor Gaskins ‘20, left, and Carson Peters ’20 was shown during the Posse Scholars virtual graduation ceremony in June.

“At Grinnell, I learned the importance of service and the impact of sharing positivity with communities and showing support,” she says. “Grinnell also taught me the importance of community-driven collaborative partnerships and being a global citizen.”

The University of Maryland’s Office of Community Engagement helped publicize her card-writing efforts, and Peters hopes to expand the card deliveries beyond College Park.

“The idea that these workers need to be thanked and acknowledged continues to inspire me,” she says. “They allow us to flourish and thrive in a challenging and unusual time.”

Visit the Essential Cards website to learn more about the campaign and how to get involved.

— by Anne Stein ’84

Grinnell College promotes deep cultural understanding in a campus community and beyond. Kaya Prasad ’19 sensed that the best way to learn about global development was to witness it firsthand. Meanwhile, Kevin Rhodes ’85 and Melinda (Lindy) Lopes ’85 named the Lopes Rhodes Dirty Teaching Lab to give back to the Grinnell community.