LMU – SMS students giving back

Published 1:50 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2020


When clinical rotations were brought to a halt for physician assistant (PA) students at Lincoln Memorial University-School of Medical Sciences (LMU-SMS) due to COVID-19, a few students put their energy into projects to help their community.

Assisting with Disaster Relief 

John-Michael Riegger and Taylor Newsom, both in the PA Class of 2020, spent several days helping with disaster relief cleanup efforts for families impacted by recent tornadoes in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

On Easter Sunday, the evening of April 12, 2020, severe thunderstorms and a tornado ripped through Southeast Tennessee leaving a path of destruction in Chattanooga. Riegger and Newsom were in the Chattanooga area for clinical rotations, which had been put on hold due to the pandemic. Having volunteered previously with the LMU-SMS PA Class of 2020 with disaster relief efforts from flooding in LaFollette, Tennessee, the two felt compelled to find a way to help with cleanup efforts from the storm.

“Volunteering with disaster relief efforts last year demonstrated to us that people are in dire need following natural disasters,” said Riegger.

Newsom’s church, Calvary Christian, had organized a relief effort through Samaritan’s Purse and suggested they volunteer. The two PA students were responsible for cleanup around two houses, which involved operating chainsaws and moving large amounts of debris to the street for pickup.

“Unfortunately, the owners had moved to the area just seven days before the tornado. They did not have insurance coverage and lost everything,” said Riegger. “Multiple families lost the majority of their belongings. It is one thing to assess the damage through the television and news outlets, but it is a completely different experience when you are working firsthand with the people that were affected directly.”

Learning to Make Facemasks

Rachel Holloway in the PA Class of 2021 decided to take the initiative to learn how to sew so that she could make face masks for local hospital employees.

“I was inspired to help aid the community during the PPE shortage to provide protection from Covid-19,” said Holloway. “I have really enjoyed sewing the masks and serving the community.

Over the last two weeks, Holloway has made over 100 masks and hopes to continue making more.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423.869.6280 or email at admissions@LMUnet.edu.