At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.



I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.



I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.


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childcare service was one of the few ways... We’re all in school so we can help our communities in times like this… So, if we couldn’t do anything hands on, the next best thing was to help out the people who actually were doing the hands-on stuff.” Kathryn Perry, another rising second-year at the UKCOM Bowling Green campus who serves as co-director of the childcare service, expressed that she wanted to get involved with this program because school age kids were suddenly staying at home due to schools canceling. She wanted to help healthcare workers that were still working by providing free childcare.

Another noteworthy cause was the housing for healthcare workers project started by Jessica Geddes, who is a current fourth-year medical student at the UKCOM Lexington campus. Through this program, she supplied free or discounted living arrangements to physicians in the Lexington area that wished to quarantine away from their families. She was able to achieve this by offering vacant medical student apartments as well as partnering with a Lexington RV business. When asked why she started this program, Ms. Geddes said, “I saw stories on the news about healthcare workers living in garages or hotel rooms in order to self-quarantine away from their families. I figured I had an empty apartment close to the UK Medical Campus that could be a good alternative.”

We are currently living through a historical time period on a global scale. Much like previous pandemics and the September 11th attacks, future students will be learning about the events that are going on right now for ages to come. Some individuals, such as healthcare workers, medical researchers, and politicians that helped to plan and coordinate an appropriate response, will be remembered forever because of these events. However, there are still individuals that helped in significant, but less recognized ways, with each crisis in history. These individuals do not often get the recognition that they deserve, such as the willing UKCOM student volunteer efforts mentioned in this article, that have tried to make a difference in this state during these historical and unprecedented times.

Even though I was 5 years old when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred in New York City on September 11th, 2001, I do not recollect any information from that time. However, everyone that I have talked with who was old enough to remember these events have such clear memories of where they were and what they were doing when they found out about this national tragedy.

I never really understood this feeling until the rise of COVID-19 and the extremeness of the disruption that occurred with everyday life. I will remember the last time my medical school class met to take our last in-person neuroanatomy exam. Immediately afterward, I drove home for the weekend to relax, see family, and prepare for our Objective Structured Clinical Exam the following week. Little did I know at the time that I would not return to Bowling Green for months as the pandemic moved the rest of my first-year medical school classwork completely online and flipped normal life on its head.

While everyone was figuring out this new world, many University of Kentucky College of Medicine (UKCOM) students saw a world that was in desperate need of help and ran to answer this call to action. They saw the actions and sacrifices taken by true heroes of this pandemic: the healthcare workers across the nation. They saw the effects that the virus and the subsequent lockdown had on those in the community. Examples of the actions undertaken by these humble servants include making masks for those in the community, leading donation drives, volunteering in the state’s COVID-19 response, and other programs.


One such program was the childcare and pet service that arose across the UKCOM Lexington campus, Bowling Green campus, and Northern Kentucky campus to help local providers during COVID-19. Christina Mattingly is a rising second- year medical student at the UKCOM  Northern Kentucky campus that coordinates their childcare and pet service for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the hospital associated with that campus. When asked why she helped start this program, she said, “I have a passion for working with children and knew this would be a great opportunity for other medical students who shared that passion. I knew this was a great way we could give back to (St. Elizabeth) providers who have been so welcoming and will be training us in our clinical experiences.” She is one of the eight students at the Northern Kentucky campus to take part in this program.

Sameer Fraser is a rising second-year medical student at the UKCOM Bowling Green campus that serves as one of the co-directors of the childcare service for Warren County healthcare workers at our campus. He shared similar thoughts as Ms. Mattingly when asked why he wanted to start the program at the Bowling Green campus. He said, “At the beginning of all this, as medical students, there was very little we could do in terms of helping out the healthcare system, but this