For 3 semesters now, I have been volunteering at the Merit Health Wesley Hospital here in Hattiesburg. I helped the staff with paperwork, signed patients in, and helped patients fill out forms. Once COVID-19 came along, most if not all hospitals stopped allowing volunteering where patient contact was present. Being pre-med, this was the experience I sought the most, so I was at a loss of what to do. I knew that I still wanted to do something that helped or benefited patients.
After some searching, I decided that I would make masks and donate them to the hospital. Luckily, my parents had a sewing machine and extra fabric. On one of Luckyday’s newsletters, it had a tutorial on how to make masks so I used that as a template and adjusted it to what I had. There are also many guides online and on YouTube with tutorials on how to make masks in many different ways. With online classes giving loads of work and the date of my MCAT test ever approaching, I was extremely busy just studying and trying to adjust to this new course format. I decided that every Saturday I would put aside at least two hours to work on the masks. At first just making one mask took 30 minutes. I kept making mistakes with the sewing machine, breaking the needle, and messing up the dimensions of the cloth, which resulted in more than a few baby-sized masks. After a while, I started getting better and faster at it. Having to cut more fabric and adjust everything, I ended up only needing 10 minutes to make a mask. Although that is slow by many standards, I was ecstatic to be getting better.
After almost 7 weeks, I had a little more than 60 masks made. I then went to the hospital and donated them. I could have donated them anywhere, but I felt that my “home” hospital would make the greatest impact. Throughout this process, I learned that persevering through challenges and difficulties would produce great results. I am not skilled in sewing to say the least, but I am much better than before. Perseverance is something that we all need right now to get through classes and this uncertain time in our lives. I know it may seem difficult, but if we just do our best the outcome will be well worth it.
Bryson Brister is a junior Luckyday Scholar majoring in biological sciences with an emphasis in biomedical science.