TMLA Covid – 19 Heroes

Over 200 photos and stories came to the TMLA Alumnae office to nominate TMLA Heroes/Heroines for their service during these times. Here are a few of their stories.

Caitlin Smith Eyerman ‘07 is an extraordinary nurse currently in the thick of dealing with a mass of COVID patients in one of the most inundated hospitals on Long Island, Southside. . . . Caitlin has even postponed her own second mastectomy and reconstruction surgery after beating the life out of breast cancer so that she could be there for her coworkers and hospital when they need her most.

Amanda Villaggi ‘14 works for the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Amanda’s job is to release decedents to funeral homes or in an unfortunate situation, to Hart Island ( Potter’s Field). . . .  Amanda and her colleagues work very long days to make sure that the deceased of this city, COVID victims or not, do not go unnoticed or forgotten.

Paola Lema ’96 is a Certified Surgical Technologist working at Northwell LIJ. Because elective surgeries have been postponed she has been deployed to floors. . . . as a part of what is called the iPad team. Poala helps patients and loved ones connect through Facetime or Zoom because no one is allowed to come into the hospital that is not a patient. . . .

Erica Llewellyn ‘11  When Erica heard of Mr. Lewinger’s passing, she felt the need to help, so she put her day job aside and answered the plea for help. She is currently a CNA at The Billie Jean King Center temporary hospital for Covid -19. 

Joyce Farewell Ruocco ‘75 is an Art Teacher for children with special needs in the Department of Education. It is amazing watching her transform her class into a virtual learning program. Joyce was nominated by her daughter Jessica Ruocco ‘06.

Marybeth Moore Cherpelis ’90: “I have been a nurse for 25 years at NYU Langone. Most of that time has been spent as a critical care nurse. I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. The past month has been the most challenging, exhausting, emotional and frustrating time I can remember in my nursing career. But this past month has also reaffirmed to me that I am surrounded by the most amazing family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Your gifts, cards, meals, food donations, and clappy hours have meant more than you know. Your calls and check-in texts have really kept me going, even if I didn’t have a chance to respond.”

Denise DeJesus, BSN, RN ‘15 started working as a Registered Nurse in March of 2020 at Northwell Lenox Hill Hospital. It was definitely terrifying a time being a new nurse having all COVID patients. It was heartbreaking hearing codes every so often and dealing with unstable patients. Although emotionally challenging, Denise is so humbled and grateful to do what she loves and to be there for someone’s loved one. The unity and love from everyone reminds her of our TMLA community.

All of the women who were nominated as heroes during this time of pandemic reflect a wide range of experience, expertise and years of TMLA graduation, from 1975 to the present.  A common thread in their stories is the credit they give Mary Louis for inspiring them to make sacrifices to serve others. 

A photo gallery of  women nominated may be found in the TMLA photo Gallery and at  https://www.tmla.org/hilltopper-heroes/

We expect to share more about these heroic women in further news stories on our web and in their photo gallery.

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