Alumna earns Super Bowl ticket for her tireless efforts to fight COVID-19

February 06, 2021

Katherine Chinnici donates plasma.

Katherine Chinnici ’16, MOT '18, OTD '22 has worked diligently at Tampa General Hospital to help countless COVID-19 patients get back on their feet throughout the past year — even donating her own plasma. For her tireless efforts, she earned the ultimate 27th birthday present: a ticket to the Super Bowl on February 7.

“Working in inpatient rehab, I have worked with an influx of patients who are considered ‘COVID recovered,’ meaning they no longer actively have the virus — but instead are facing the repercussions, which can include pneumonia or a stroke,” she said. “I work with these individuals to help gain back their independence.”

A majority of her treatment sessions are focused on improving endurance and overall strength in order to help patients complete activities of daily living – including bathing, dressing, grooming and eating.

“Many times, we work directly with the families of these individuals prior to discharge in order to ensure both the patient and their family are educated on the needs of the patient and guarantee they can adequately tend to those needs,” Chinnici explained.

She had a unique perspective, having survived the coronavirus herself.

“On October 29, I tested positive for COVID,” she said. “At the time, I was a perfectly healthy 26-year-old, but it took me about six weeks before I started to feel like myself again. That includes two-plus weeks of missed workdays, various doctor’s appointments, numerous tests and countless inhaler puffs."

Because of her experience, she was able to help other COVID patients recover in an additional way — by donating her blood plasma with antibodies.

“I received my first dose of the COVID vaccine on December 30, and my second on January 19,” she said. “COVID is very real. COVID kills, and COVID can affect you and your loved ones. I encourage everyone to continue to be smart, wear a mask and be safe.”

To thank her for her continued efforts, the NFL awarded her and many of her colleagues a ticket to the biggest game of the year. Better still, her ticket was just a few rows behind the field.

“I was shocked,” Chinnici recalled.

In addition to attending the game, she will be attending the TikTok Tailgate before the game, where Miley Cyrus will perform, and food will be provided from 18 local eateries.

She credited Quinnipiac with helping her build a strong foundation on which she has built her career.

“Quinnipiac has prepared me for the COVID crisis by providing me with the tools and confidence needed to adapt to any new situation,” Chinnici said.

She urged current students to do their best, but not to be too hard on themselves.

“Enjoy your college years, but make sure to prioritize school work as well,” she said. “You are here for an education, but life is more than just textbooks and what you learn in the classroom.”

Keep an eye out for Chinnici — especially if the Buccaneers score. She’ll be the enthusiastic fan in the endzone with a red Brady jersey on.

Learn more:

BS in Health Science Studies

Dual-Degree BS in Health Science Studies/Master of Occupational Therapy (4+1.5)

Entry-Level Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy

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