HAMPTON, Va. (August 27, 2018) — Hampton University faculty, students, and alumni came together on Friday, August 3, 2018 to celebrate and remember Kelsea Monet Randolph, a Hampton University School of Pharmacy student who passed away last year. Her parents, Cynthia and Bernard Randolph, were on hand to receive her posthumous Honorary Doctorate degree.
Shortly after birth, Kelsea was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia type SS. Despite being diagnosed at such a young age, she had a normal childhood and did not suffer from any crises until her senior year in high school. Despite her suffering, she was determined to attend Hampton University and work towards her Doctorate degree.
“Today Hampton University is issuing my daughter Kelsea her Doctorate. Kelsea was determined to get her degree despite the fact she was in the midst of a pretty lengthy illness. Today, we are celebrating the work that she did,” said Mrs. Cynthia Randolph, Kelsea’s mother.
“What a momentous occasion to remember and to honor one of our own who epitomized the Hampton University ideals of working hard and having unending character, and who continued to work towards her end goal, despite her illness,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. “I want to offer my condolences to Kelsea’s family and friends and know that the Lord is watching over her.”
Kelsea started the Hampton University School of Pharmacy Doctoral six-year program in 2014. She would have graduated with her degree in May. Because she was so determined to finish her degree, despite suffering from her illness, she found a way to attend class completely by robot. Together, Kelsea and the School of Pharmacy would use a telepresence robot, which is a portable device that holds an iPad, and enabled Kelsea to listen to lectures from home or even the hospital, so that she would not miss class. Kelsea’s father, Mr. Bernard Randolph and a Hampton University alumnus, donated the device to the Hampton University School of Pharmacy at the gathering.
“Kelsea would have graduated this year, 2018, so that is really what we are celebrating and commemorating, the fact that we have lost a part of our family who represented everything that was positive, that was good and what every student fights to aspire for in the School of Pharmacy and that is the way we all remember Kelsea,” said Dr. Anand Iyer, Dean of the Hampton University School of Pharmacy, who helped emcee the gathering.
Kelsea’s mother is extremely proud of her daughter and her commitment to Hampton University. “She loved the school. I don’t know anyone more determined with all the crises she had and lengthy hospital stays, but she always came back and came back fierce because she had made up her mind she was doing this and nothing was going to get in her way,” said Mrs. Randolph.
Many of Kelsea’s friends also attended the celebration. “We were really meant to be friends and even up to her final days, I was one of the last people that were roommates with her and she was going through that whole process of going through surgery and she was very tough. She would drive five hours from North Carolina to Newport News and then I would be in the house and she would still try to carry all her bags by herself. When she got in the house she would turn on her computer and go to work. She lives in my heart, and I hear her voice all the time, but I know that she is proud of this moment because she worked really hard for this degree and now she’s got it,” said Terika Jones, Hampton University class of 2015.
Kathia Anne-Samie Aurelus, who also passed away recently, was given a posthumous Honorary Doctorate as well. Most of her family is in Florida and could not make it to the event. Kathia joined the Hampton University School of Pharmacy in 2014 and was working as a medical support specialist at the VA in Florida. She was part of an enrichment program to ensure students are able to matriculate on time. She went through that program, finished it, and improved her grades so that she didn’t need that extra support. She would also have graduated with the class of 2018.
“I just want to pass on my sincere condolences to Mr. and Mrs. Randolph and Kathia’s family as well, and I wish to say that we are really proud of them and what they achieved while they were here, and they both left a lasting impact and that’s how we will remember them,” said Dr. Iyer.