Iris Meda retired in January, excitedly starting her new life. After a 35-year career as a dedicated registered nurse, Iris planned to spend more time with her grandchildren, catch up with her siblings, and join her local leadership center.
But shortly after his retirement, the epidemic arrived and with it a change of plans.
“I was very surprised by the turn of events,” Selene Meda-Schlamel, Iris ’daughter, told NBC News on Tuesday. Selene said her mother was closely monitoring the virus during the closure and, frustrated by the growing problems of health workers, eventually decided she could no longer sit idly by.
In August, he taught college students and a few double-credit high school students at Collin College, a suburb northeast of Dallas. Irene was a way of giving back to teaching future front workers in the midst of a pandemic, Selene said, adoring every minute of it.
“It caught fire,” Selene said. – She loved it. It made him so happy because he loved the show so much and he knew his abilities because he nursed it for so long and worked in so many different institutions, from the correctional doctor to the hospitals to the burn unit.
Iris was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and moved to Harlem when she was 7, Selene said. The eldest of the five children, Iris, cared for his younger siblings and raised them when his mother, a domestic worker, and her husband, long-distance knights, left for a long time. Iris eventually dropped out of high school.
“He was expecting a life where he would meet someone, get married and raise a lot of kids,” Selene said. “But my dad told him he was very smart and persuaded him to get his GED.”
From here, Selene said Iris graduated as a nurse in 1984 from City College in New York and works at various hospitals in the state. After working as a nurse at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility, Iris went to Dallas, where she helped set up an HIV clinic, Selene said.
At the age of 70, Iris retired as a nursing home administrator with the North Texas Labor Corps, thinking it would be her last job. Selene said her mother could not have imagined working longer at age 70 and in a pandemic like this.
“When she started work, there weren’t many students in the classroom, so she had a good time,” Selene said. “He was worried about the risks, but he felt he had enough personal protective equipment and was far enough away from the students to be okay. I don’t know if there was a point where his risk was clear. I think he underestimated the risks of his love of teaching.
In early October, Iris came into close contact with a student at Covid-19, according to a school email received by Inside Higher Ed and confirmed by NBC News. Days later, Iris herself found the virus positive and began to experience symptoms. He was hospitalized on Oct. 17 and, despite receiving antibody transfusions and the remdesivir drug, was intubated with deteriorating condition, Selene said. He died on November 14, almost a month later, of coronavirus complications.
“He did what he loved,” Selene told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. – He lived a full life despite the risks. At that time on their own terms. She is trying to prepare future sisters for this country. “
Selene said one of the reasons her mother became a nurse was because her earliest memories were of caring for her siblings. “He generously and ignored love,” he said.
“He was looking for an opportunity to pay off, and teaching the college’s health professions seemed perfect,” read H. Neil Matkin, president of Collin College, obtained by Inside Higher Ed and confirmed by NBC News. “She was 70 years old, and although her daughter reported that her mother was so excited to study at Collin College, she looked much younger.”
In a statement to NBC News, Matkin said: “On behalf of our board of trustees, students, faculty and staff, we extend our deepest condolences to the Meda family. Professor Meda’s family said it was an honor for me to serve as an instructor at Collin College and we are sincerely grateful for their service to our students. “
Selene stressed how much Iris enjoyed working with the students.
“He would say how he could select those who are struggling and stay after them and give them a helping hand because he has received so much encouragement in his life,” Selene told NBC News Dallas-Fort Worth.
In an online fundraiser set up by a family friend from an Iris temple for medical and funeral accounts, donations are also directed to a scholarship fund on behalf of Iris.
“Iris has been passionate about education, and it will be a worthy tribute to her,” reads the fundraising description.