Helen Etuk was on track to achieve her dream of becoming a pediatrician. The 20-year-old was finishing up her senior year at the University of North Texas and planned to get her medical degree after graduation.
Etuk, who was raised by a single mother, hoped to one day be able to treat any child that needed help, even if their parents could not afford treatment.
But after contracting COVID-19, Etuk died from the virus on Jan. 12, one month before her 21st birthday, The New York Times reported.
Etuk, who also had lupus, had gone back to in-person classes at the University of North Texas and did her best to distance from her classmates. She always wore a mask, her mother Ellen Clinton told the Times. But late last year Etuk started coughing.
"She blamed herself, saying she made a mistake in going back to school. She said that sometimes students pull their masks down, so they cover their mouths but not their noses," Clinton said.
Etuk's cough was COVID-19, and she spent nearly three months in the hospital with the virus before her death in January. After raising money on GoFundMe to cover the costs, the family held a funeral for her at the end of January.
"She was a wonderful sister, daughter, and friend who touched the lives of those around her," a friend of the family wrote on the fundraising page. "Helen dedicated her life to serve God, make her loved ones happy, and excel in her academics so that one day she may be fortunate to give her mother, Ellen Clinton, all the things she has desired."
Clinton told the Times that it was clear from a young age that Etuk would be a high achiever.
"She never asked for dolls. She always asked for books," her mother said. "When I would go to Walmart, she would say, 'Can I buy books?' That's when I knew she was smart."
"She would have done so much," Clinton added.
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