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As the College community struggles with the tragic loss of Elizabeth Durante '10, two students are continuing her medical mission to Uganda.
Brigid O'Gorman '11, who had planned to be part of the trip but delayed her departure to play in the NESCAC hockey semi-finals, left for Uganda March 9. She took all of the clothing and medical supplies the students had collected over the past several months with her to and saw that they got to their intended destination.
In Uganda she connected with Meredith Bosco '12, who had traveled separately to the airport and then continued on the trip with students from other colleges and with staff from the Asayo Wish Foundation.
Their mission took on special meaning with the death of Liz Durante in a traffic collision on I-395 in Montville, Conn. on March 7. She was leading students on the trip to Uganda through Asayo Wish.
Eight of the students were traveling in a passenger van to Logan Airport when the van was struck by a vehicle traveling the wrong way on I-395. The driver of that vehicle was arraigned on charges that included DUI and second-degree manslaugher.
The other students were taken to area hospitals. All have been treated and released.
"Elizabeth was a student of enormous talent, commitment and compassion. Her passing is an incalculable loss to our community," President Higdon said in a statement to the College community. "Our deepest sympathies are with Elizabeth´s family and with her many friends on campus."
The College will plan a memorial service after spring break to remember Liz Durante and celebrate her life.
A certified Emergency Medical Technician and an aspiring doctor, she was passionate about Africa and wrote that she aspired to "saving the world, one day at a time." She was a psychology major with a focus on pre-med, and she volunteered as an EMT for the West Islip Fire Department.
In 2007, she traveled to South Africa with the New London Collegiate Ministry to build relations between communities and visit local AIDS hospices. With her friend Stefanie Hinman ´10, she spent her 2008 spring break at an orphanage in Kaberamaido, Uganda, where she joined a group of volunteers from Vassar College to provide medical services and bring medical supplies.
This year, the two young women had organized a group from Connecticut College to return to the orphanage. The students raised money to pay their own travel expenses and to buy much-needed medical supplies.
Higdon said he spoke several times with Brigid O'Gorman before her departure for Uganda. "She feels strongly about making this trip and carrying out the work that Elizabeth and all of the students … had planned for so long," he said in a note to the College community.
"I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of support from within the College and beyond. It is humbling and inspiring to see Elizabeth´s impact not only on this campus community, but on many other individuals and communities."