The University of Mississippi Medical Center recently created a scholarship fund for its dearly missed student, Pricilla Li.
Pricilla Li, a second year medical student at UMMC and a part-time worker at the Jackson Free Clinic, passed away at her home in Jackson this past December at the age of 26. The Clarksdale native attended Mississippi State University where she was a Delta Gamma and received the Spirit of State award in 2011.
Ryder Taff, portfolio manager at New Perspectives, Inc. in Jackson, was her former classmate at Mississippi School of Mathematics and Science.
“She was the sweetest person I’ll ever meet, tremendously kind and capable. I’m sure everyone will say the same thing,” he said.
She left a hole in many people’s hearts, especially for Jacob Baker. He met her during their first year of medical school during gross anatomy at UMMC when they were assigned to dissection table No. 8. The six people assigned there drew close.
“We obviously spent a lot of time together that first semester, and when you’re doing something like dissecting a human being, you sort of develop a special bond,” Baker said of the group at table No. 8.
From that tedious task “Table Gr8″ formed: Ashley Villarreal, Taryn Green, Doug Pearson, Wood Dale, Jacob Baker and Pricilla Li.
“Medical school has a lot of strong personalities,” said Baker, “and when you put six different people with strong personalities together and give them an extremely tedious task that they work on together for several hours a day, conflicts tend to arise. That never happened with us. If anything it brought us a lot closer.”
They spent a lot of time out of class together. They had “grub club” a few times a month where they all cooked dinner and watched a movie. Any parties, rowdy or quiet, they went. They studied together. They helped decorate Doug’s parents house for Christmas. And every year on Pricilla’s birthday they went to the Mississippi State Fair because she loved it so.
“If you could do it together, chances are you’d find us all there,” said Baker.
It became a running joke at UMMC that they all dated each other since they were together so often. Many groups disbanded after the gross anatomy class but Table Gr8 didn’t.
“There are many other stories of things we’d do together, but I think you get the point,” said Baker. “We were, in many ways, each other’s best friends, both in medical school and otherwise.”
After losing Pricilla the group drew closer in their loss. In the immediate aftermath of her passing, they tried to help her family with the details: packing up her room and taking her stuff to Clarksdale. Then the group brainstormed a way to honor her memory.
Table Gr8 came up with the Pricilla Li Memorial Scholarship, one of many efforts in honor of the joy she brought to those who met her. Baker then began sending out a letter to people who cared for Pricilla Li.
“We wanted something lasting, something that would carry on Pricilla’s legacy of selflessly serving others,” said Baker. "I meant every word of that letter. She truly was a great person and spent her life giving to others. We wanted to continue that legacy even in her absence.”
The scholarship will go to an M2 (second year medical student) who embodies Pricilla’s virtues. Table Gr8 wants the scholarship recipient to be chosen in part by the second year medical students and also in part by the administration and faculty.
Jerry Clark, chief student affairs officer and associate dean for student affairs for the School of Medicine was key in helping Table Gr8 form the memorial scholarship.
“I’ve known Pricilla Li for a couple of years in my capacity as dean of students,” he said. “Pricilla’s big smile lit up a room. She was particularly interested in service. Her work at the Jackson Free Clinic and Population Health is well known among our faculty and her classmates.”
UMMC is seeking donations to help fund the scholarship. Contact Sanette L. Langston-Smith, Manager of Annual Giving, at 601-815-3155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information, or donate directly to the Pricilla Li Scholarship Fund here.
Callie Daniels, HottyToddy.com