LEWISBURG, W.Va. – West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) students and employees spent “A Night to Remember” reflecting on the lives that have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic and those who have been personally affected.
The luminaria event, which took place April 12 at the parade field on WVSOM’s campus in Lewisburg, W.Va., was organized by the school’s Stress Relief Task Force, a group through which students can make WVSOM administrators aware of their pandemic-related concerns.
“A lot of people have been affected by the loss of family members and friends. This is a simple way we could address and support those people,” said Julianna Quick, a WVSOM learning specialist and student counselor who organized the event.
About 700 bags were lit and placed along the perimeter of the parade field, and bags that spelled out the word “hope” were placed on the steps of the school’s amphitheater.
First-year student Austin Martin attended the event to honor his grandfather who passed away on Dec. 19 from COVID-19, just two days after classes ended for the holiday break. He paid tribute to his grandfather — a cancer survivor — by wearing his hat and jacket, and assisting with filling luminaria bags with sand and lighting their candles.
Martin was able to spend his grandfather’s final days with him, an experience he said he thinks will make him a more empathetic doctor.
“I think being there in his final days will influence how I interact with patients’ families,” he said. “I think it will amplify my compassion for patients and their loved ones.”
Abundance Hunt was another first-year student who attended the event. Before medical school, she worked at an outdoor COVID-19 testing unit at the Robert C. Byrd Clinic in Lewisburg.
Serving the community in which she grew up and witnessing the pandemic on the front lines was a valuable experience for an incoming medical student, she said.
“It opened my eyes to what I’d be doing and how this is an ever-changing and fluid career,” Hunt said. “I’m excited to be part of the change that’s going to come from it.”