Sarah Pedersen

Sarah Pedersen

A Barbourville resident attending Princeton University is seeking out local testimonies from the COVID-19 pandemic and Appalachian perspectives on the road to getting back to normal.

Sarah Pedersen, a second-year Princeton University student and Corbin High School graduate, is conducting a university-sponsored research project to study Appalachian experiences from the past year, views on the COVID-19 vaccines, and how the community has moved forward amid the pandemic. The project consists of an online survey entitled “Kentuckian Thoughts on Pandemic Response and Recovery.” Additionally, she will be holding a series of 30-minute, open-ended interviews with local community members. Pedersen explained her research methodology, adding “The survey’s goal is to gain a general idea of how Kentuckian residents were affected by the pandemic. In interviews, I hope to have more in-depth conversations to understand individual Appalachian stories.” 

Pedersen came up with the idea to focus the project on her hometown back in the winter. “A lot of people do not understand how the pandemic affected our area, and I want to share the unique viewpoints of people in Southeastern Kentucky and how we have adjusted to the new ‘normal’ despite all the challenges we have faced,” she said. She proposed her idea to Princeton as a part of the ReMatch+ research program a few months ago, and the project was approved by the university in the spring. She is now spearheading the project alongside a graduate student and professor from Princeton’s Department of Sociology.

pedersen qr code

If you are interested in taking Pedersen’s survey or being interviewed, you can access the survey by scanning the QR code, texting (859) 904-3026, or emailing her at All survey participants will be entered into a raffle to win a $25 Amazon gift card, and all interview participants will be compensated with a $10 Amazon gift card.

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