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Up for the Challenge

Emma Leenerman, '15

You find out what folks are made of when the pressure is on. For Emma Leenerman, this new mom and kinesiology, fitness and health alumna, found she is made of the right stuff.

“It began with a phone call from John Marshall,” recalls Leenerman. “I was asked to fill a position that was outside of my job description.”

Until this year, Leenerman was the CMU coordinator of alumni engagement. After that phone call, she moved into a new office and a completely new job function: coordinating COVID-19 testing efforts for the entire CMU campus.

Yet, Leenerman felt incredibly lucky to be asked and the monumental task did not phase her. She learned a great deal of medical procedures quickly and picked up on the necessary science. Leenerman recruited staff to help manage the drive-through test site including redeployed CMU staff. She also mobilized the CMU nursing faculty and students to help administer the COVID-19 tests.

“I feel like I can place a phone call to any department and get help. It’s a real team effort,” Leenerman said.

The figures are impressive: about 6,000 tests during the initial two weeks and about 30,000 tests total. This has been the backbone of CMU’s Safe Together, Strong Together campus plan, which allowed for 16 weeks of in person classes last fall.

Leenerman is most proud that CMU’s drive-through testing is also taking some of the stress off of Mesa County. Most days, the drive-through wait time is between five and six minutes. They are able to provide three different types of tests: nasal swab, PCR saliva and the highly specific Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) test. In addition to coordinating with Warrior Laboratories in Loveland, Colorado, she also set up labs directly on the CMU campus which have the test results by 5pm the same day.

CMU and the Grand Junction community have Leenerman to thank for stepping up to the challenge of ensuring reliable and fast COVID-19 testing during this time.


Written by Suzanne Bronson