EAST LANSING — Ally Hoppe faced a lot of challenges during her time as a star athlete at the championship-rich Unionville-Sebewaing Area High School.
But those challenges helped her to stay strong as a medical student during one of the worst pandemics in the nation’s history.
The Unionville native was one of the first in the state to receive a COVID vaccine as a third-year medical student studying at Midland Regional Campus at MidMichigan Health. Hoppe was put on the priority list as a frontline worker and was a part of the first wave of vaccine recipients in Midland County.
Being one of the first to receive the vaccine and as a medical student, Hoppe, 26, was a source of information for multiple people.
“After I got it, I got asked all sorts of questions,” she said. “My phone was blowing up, so I’ve never been impromptu, but I decided to make a video and just put everything out there. You kept hearing the same misinformation and for me, it was just me doing my part to get the scientific information out there and allowing people to use it to make the most informed decision for themselves and their family.”
That video, originally posted on her Facebook page before she uploaded it to YouTube, received more than 11,000 views on YouTube and more than 15,000 on her personal Facebook page.
“I tried to pull anything political out of it,” Hoppe said. “I just put out there the information on the vaccine, let them know why there are some things they are hearing, and allowed people to make their own decision.
“I wanted to clear up the misinformation.”
The video proved to be a help to people as she received more questions, and a second video was created by Hoppe six days later and a third and final video was made on April 6, 2021.
“There are definitely people who came back and told me I was getting paid and I was brainwashed,” she said. “But it was overwhelmingly positive from most people. That’s why I did more videos because I kept having more questions.
“It was out of my comfort zone, but I saw a need for it, I saw people had questions but didn’t know who to ask and I saw myself as that person.”
The number of views across both platforms was not something Hoppe expected when uploading it for friends and family.
Hoppe noted that while she didn’t lose anyone close to her due to COVID, she saw the effects of it firsthand while working in the hospital.
“I was on the COVID unit and had to face it daily,” she said. “I saw people hooked up to vents and things of that nature. I think the hardest part, there were a lot, but the hardest was being in the hospital and seeing things with your own eyes before leaving and having people tell you it’s not real.”
Hoppe is entering her fourth year of medical school at Michigan State University, which has allowed her to travel and see different parts of Michigan including her home in the Thumb area.
“I did rotations in the Thumb,” she said. “I specifically signed up for this program, because I wanted the chance to come home and be in those type of hospital settings.”
One of those settings happened to be involving another love of hers, sports.
“A physician I worked with in Bad Axe, Dr. Nguyen, he is the sideline physician for the Bad Axe High School football team,” Hoppe said. “I went to as many games as I could and helped out on the sideline, and I plan to do that again this year. I loved that.”
The love for sports runs so deep for Hoppe that she sees both sides of the fence in the upcoming season and the handling of the new delta variant.
“It’s a very difficult question,” she said. “I think that the reason that there is not a right answer to this is because you can see both sides to this argument. I was a high school athlete and know that sports are super important.
“What I can tell you, right now, with people being vaccinated and this summer and with the delta variant. We’ve seen it’s not more deadly, but it is more contagious and so people who are vaccinated can contract it and spread it. Truthfully, being vaccinated I feel a lot more comfortable compared to December being in the hospital. Now people who aren’t vaccinated, I worry about them a little more, but it goes back to ‘If they aren’t worried, then that’s their choice.’”
Hoppe was a member of back-to-back Division 3 runner-up USA softball teams, which she stresses not only gave her lessons to use in the game but also in real life.
“Softball was a big sport for me in high school,” she said. “From the outside when you’re looking in, you see the rich history, and awards and trophies we bring home, but what it builds in us is confidence and the character. We learn to be resilient and to have grit to go forward in life.”
She even admits to using a sports mentality within the walls of the operating room.
“I’ve been in a lot of high stressed medical situations,” Hoppe said. “I get nervous, but I literally tell myself ‘It’s the bottom of the seventh, no outs and coach (Steve) Bohn wants you to do this,’ and it calms me down. I’ve been put into those high pressure spots when I was younger, I mean the dynamic is a lot different between a softball diamond and the operating room, but it is a parallel.”
Graduation from medical school is approaching for Hoppe, as she prepares for the next step in her medical career.
“I graduate in May 2022 and I’m counting down the months to when I officially the M.D. title,” she said. “My goal is applying to general surgery this fall and becoming a surgeon, I’m interested in surgical oncology.”
Through it all, Hoppe just wants to make sure everyone is safe and stays healthy.
“I don’t want to see someone from my community in here,” she said. “I don’t want to see anyone in here. My opinion on the vaccine is to get it. I am also firm in the decision that it is your personal choice, but I want you to make the decision with unbiased information or information without all the different rumors playing into it.”