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Saturday, July 18th is a special day in American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine 's (AUC) history. Twenty years ago, in 1995, AUC students, faculty, and colleagues on the island of Montserrat had their lives interrupted by an erupting volcano. 

As the sky turned black from the volcanic ash, they worked together to evacuate while implementing the emergency plans that were in place to ensure that AUC’s students could continue to pursue their shared dream of becoming a physician. Together they accomplished what must have seemed impossible at the time: continuation of the medical education degree program despite overwhelming obstacles. It was a defining point in the lives of many of our alumni and for AUC as an institution as well.


Many alumni have shared photographs and remembrances from this time. I am particularly moved by the photograph of AUC students being evacuated by the US Coast Guard. When I look at this photo, I see the resilience, collaboration towards collective success, and special sense of family that have become part of the DNA of our unique institution. And I think often of the AUC colleagues who were living in Montserrat, born and raised there, who were an important part of the AUC family.


Their lives were impacted in a dramatically different way. I unfortunately do not know many of their stories, but I think it’s a good reminder for all of us who are not native to St. Maarten to reflect on the important part that our St. Maarten residents and colleagues play in helping our students be successful. I do know that some Montserrat-based colleagues, including Justina Greenaway, Neville ‘Top Secret’ Greenaway, Linton Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Graneau, and Fitzroy Silcott, moved to St. Maarten to help rebuild AUC, and remain dedicated AUC colleagues today.
I encourage all members of the AUC community to take a moment to remember this defining event in AUC’s history. Take pride in being part of an institution dedicated to providing resilient students with the opportunity to become physicians, regardless of what comes in their way. I know I’m thankful for the fellowship of faculty and colleagues who are dedicated to helping our students achieve their dreams. 

Dr. Heidi Chumley

Posted July 18, 2015 09:35 AM

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