Time Capsule Burial | Eastern North Carolina Now | ECU Nursing buries pandemic momentos to be unearthed in 20 years

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Natalie Sayewich.

East Carolina University College of Nursing Dean Sylvia Brown addresses students, faculty and staff gathered to be part of the burial of two time capsules that will remain buried for 20 years. (Photos by Conley Evans)

    On a sunny early December morning, students and faculty from the East Carolina University College of Nursing came together - and some stood apart - to be a part of burying two time capsules containing relics of life and nursing school during a pandemic.

    The project was an idea from senior nursing student Brandon Phillips, and organized by the college's Student Leadership Council with assistance from professor Dr. Alta Andrews and clinical instructor Susan Willson Lally. The sealed cylindrical metal canisters were placed in the ground just outside the College of Nursing entry, and covered with shovels full of dirt - first by Phillips and Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown, followed by members of the college's Student Leadership Council and other nursing students and faculty. They're marked with a stone engraved with information of what lies below, and when they're intended to be removed - 20 years later, in December 2041.

    The capsules are filled with photos, letters, Pirate Nurse paraphernalia and items that became far more commonplace during the pandemic - masks, testing kits and hand sanitizer to name a few.

    "I just knew that this was such a different experience for nursing school. Specifically for us, we started in person, so when we were told that everything was transitioning online, it was a huge shock," Phillips said of the senior class. "Going through the online experience and being able to transition back (to in person education), it was just so different and so I knew we had to do something about it to show what we went through - and I thought it would be cool to show the future students."

    In her address to the crowd prior to burying the capsules, Brown acknowledged the extraordinary circumstances the students have faced and commended their perseverance and their volunteer efforts, providing COVID-19 vaccines and helping with testing.

    "Certainly, we have had two years of unprecedented turmoil, and you have stepped up to the plate," Brown said to the students. "This group of students have been the most impacted of any of our students - you were the first ones who transitioned to online education, and altered the way you did clinical for a while. I really appreciate the tenacity that you have experienced during this time and how consistent you've been in reaching your educational goals."

    Phillips said that he hopes the students who open the capsules in 20 years will have a more normal nursing school experience, and that he'll return to see the event in 2041.

    "100 percent, no matter where I end up, I'll definitely be here," Phillips said. "I hope that they're not having the same effects of COVID that's going on today."
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