Meet alumni enriching their communities through service.
Songs of Sustenance
Music dance theatre grad Daniel B. Wallentine (BFA ’19) had been to New York City before to pursue performance opportunities, but when he returned this spring as an EMT to help with the response to COVID-19, he didn’t expect to do much singing.
Wallentine soon found an opportunity to bring his talents together. “We had a patient who really didn’t have much desire to live,” Wallentine explains. A language barrier made communication with the hospital staff difficult, and, after spending a few weeks in a COVID-positive unit of the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, this patient had stopped eating. After Wallentine finished his lunch one day, he decided to pay this patient a visit to see if he could encourage him. “I just felt like I should try to connect with him musically, so I began singing the one song I knew in his language,” relates Wallentine. As soon as the patient heard the song, he pulled the covers off of his face, shocked. After Wallentine finished, he struck up a deal with the patient. “If he would eat his dinner, then I would come back the next day and sing another song for him,” Wallentine says. As the patient began eating, he was able to take his oral medication and things improved from there.
For Wallentine, having the opportunity to return to New York to use his musical talents and his medical skills to help the community he has grown to love was a blessing. “I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more unified as humankind,” he says. “It’s a collective power, and I’m lucky to be a part of it.”
Learning New Things
It’s the same cycle every week for art teacher Sydney J. Snow (BA ’19). “On Monday when I introduce the weekly project, they . . . complain about how much they hate art, how it is a waste of time, and how they’ll never be good at it,” says Snow of her students at Telos Academy, a boarding school in Orem for high-school boys with depression, anxiety, learning differences, and executive-function deficits. “But by the end of the week, they always admit that it was way more fun than they thought it would be and that they’re better at art than they thought they were.”
Read the full article written by Avery J. Dustin at magazine.byu.edu.