CHKD Blog

Patient Ashanti Chapman Celebrates High School Graduation at CHKD

Child Life Specialists Help CHKD Patient Celebrate High School Graduation

Author: Elizabeth Simpson Earley
Published Date: Monday, June 22, 2020

Graduates everywhere have had to adjust to ceremonies that are a little different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Seventeen-year-old Ashanti Chapman of Newport News was ready to walk across the track at Todd Stadium with her classmates to get her diploma from Woodside High School on June 17, but the week before, she got sick with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory digestive tract condition. She was admitted to CHKD.

She confided with child life assistant Amber Dallas she was sad about missing the ceremony. Amber brainstormed with child life specialist Christi Logg, and together they came up with a graduation ceremony plan.

At 2:30 p.m. on her graduation day, Pomp and Circumstance began playing on an iPad as Ashanti walked confidently out of her room wearing her purple graduation cap and gown -- and face mask, of course! In social distanced order, doctors, nurses, and child life specialists clapped and cheered as Ashanti made her procession to the red carpet, put together with red construction paper.

Nurse Monica Lombos gave one of two keynote speeches, commending Ashanti for her positive spirit: “I also heard you want to be a nurse, so just know you have the whole 8C team rooting for you!”

Hospitalist Dr. Edward Johnson also spoke, saying he and Ashanti had several things in common. While Ashanti struggled with COVID-19 interrupting her senior year, his last year of high school in upstate New York also had sadness: His mother died of breast cancer.

Ashanti wants to go to Norfolk State University to become a nurse. Dr. Johnson went to a historically black college, Johnson C. Smith University, in North Carolina, and was also interested in the medical field.

“This is a bump in the road,” he said. “Stay determined and you can achieve anything you want.”



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About Elizabeth Simpson Earley

Elizabeth Simpson Earley works in the marketing and public relations department at CHKD. She handles calls from the media, and helps to promote CHKD and children’s health. A former health reporter at The Virginian-Pilot, Elizabeth has two grown daughters who were treated at CHKD on a regular basis.

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