Coronavirus News: John D. Solomon fellowship participants graduate, ready to serve public

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Whether it's a hurricane, a blackout, or a pandemic, how the city responds to emergencies is vital.

But citizens also play a role, like 27-year-old Anastacia Pal. She's a grad student at Baruch, and spent the past nine months at NYC Emergency Management, and what a time to be in public service.

"What did you see that most impressed you about how the city has reacted?" Eyewitness News asked.

"I think the dedication that everyone has had in relation to this event," Pal said. "A lot of people who work in emergency management live here so it really is neighbors taking care of neighbors."

It's an insight she gained as a John D. Solomon fellow. This year's 10 fellows graduated in a virtual ceremony Wednesday.

The program honors the late New York City journalist and father who after 9/11 became passionate about preparedness.

"John Solomon felt the more engaged, informed, and involved a citizen was, the better off all of us are in times of crisis and emergencies, and these fellows are showing us the way," said James Soloman, brother.

"We built a hospital in a convention center, there's no guide book on how to do that," said Robert Bristol, a former fellow.

But he thinks the John D. Solomon fellowship played a part.

"To be able to see all the other fellows in this response carrying out his legacy and putting his work and our work in helping New Yorkers was just something amazing and something I'm so proud to be a part of," Bristol said.

"I think I can speak on behalf of all the fellows and say that we're astounded by the experience we've received because of all of his hard work," Pal said.

There have been 70 fellows and more than half have gone into careers in government, many right in New York City.

They're serving the public, and in many cases, helping us prepare for the unexpected.

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