Ariana Mastrogiannis (C’20) has organized an ongoing GoFundMe campaign to pay local restaurants to deliver meals to the emergency departments and intensive care units of New York hospitals. Her cousin, Dr. Valerie Pallos, is a resident physician working in various units throughout Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. Pallos, who was exhausted from working long hours in the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, inspired Mastrogiannis to find a way to help.
The Georgetown senior exceeded her $7,000 goal for the fund and has so far fed 150 health care workers at her cousin’s facility and delivered another 200 meals to health care workers in five Intensive Care Units and the emergency department at North Shore University Hospital in Nassau County.
Hometown: Queens, New York
Major/Degrees: Psychology major; disability studies minor, pre-med.
What led you to create the GoFundMe page?
“I was checking in with my cousin at the start of COVID-19,” the senior explains. “Her shift hours had been extended, and she was tired and in low spirits from what she was seeing at the hospital every day. I felt helpless at home and, with her input, thought raising money for food deliveries could be a way to help.”
Mastrogiannis decided to partner with local businesses near the hospitals – diners and delis – to provide the meals.
“I hope the meals provide some happiness in what has been an everyday battle for these workers because they have been suffering.”
Will you make additional deliveries?
“My ultimate goal is to donate to one hospital in each of New York’s boroughs and Long Island,” Mastrogiannis explains. “So far, the money has gone to Nassau County and Brooklyn hospitals.”
What Else Motivates You?
As a child, the Georgetown senior was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder that attacked her kidneys and received a kidney transplant from her mother when she was 6 years old.
“The children’s hospital associated with Northwell Health, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, is where I stayed when I was a little girl so the personal connection is what drew me into giving back to that hospital system,” Mastrogiannis says.
“My sophomore year at Georgetown, I received a second transplant from a swap program that my father entered,” she adds. “I received my transplant at a Mount Sinai Hospital. Thus, I am in the process of coordinating a meal delivery at Mount Sinai Queens.”
She is also coordinating a delivery at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. Her father, Paul Mastrogiannis, worked as a pharmacist there for many years.
“From the moment I stepped on Georgetown’s campus, I fell in love with it,” Mastrogiannis explains. “The neighborhood and the community that Georgetown provides is really what drew me in. I think the Jesuit values that Georgetown upholds provides the framework of the tight-knit community that exists there.”
Research: The senior joined psychology professor Adam Green’s Lab for Relational Cognition the summer after her sophomore year.
“I was on medical leave that year and decided to come back that summer because I had been sick and on the sidelines for too long,” she says. “I took a biology course over that summer, joined the psychology research lab and started volunteering at the Surgical Waiting Room at Georgetown MedStar. The research lab works on projects dealing with relational thinking and reasoning. I worked on a project this past semester that is investigating how the framing of tasks affects anxiety and performance.”
A Professor’s View: Mastrogiannis took Religion and Disability Studies and Disability and the Jewish Bible with Julia Watts Belser, an associate professor of Jewish studies in the theology and religious studies department and a core faculty member in the university’s Disability Studies Program.
“Ariana is a brilliant student – perceptive, insightful and passionate about social justice,” Belser says. “Her project exemplifies a powerful principle drawn from disability studies that care isn’t an individual responsibility, but a communal commitment.”
Internships and Positions:
- Research Assistant at the Lab for Relational Cognition
- Volunteer in the Surgical Waiting Room at Georgetown MedStar
- Member, Project Sunshine
- Trustee of the 1634 Society at Georgetown
Future goals: “I want to go to medical school and be able to help children the way I was helped when I was younger,” she says. “I want to be able to use my Disability Studies minor in medicine. I also have loved the experience I have had doing research in the psychology lab so I am not sure what path I will follow after medical school. In a perfect world, I would want to do some combination of clinical medicine and research.”