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'A smile that would light up the room' | Family warns of coronavirus dangers

Jamesha Waddell spent her 23rd birthday in the ICU. Her family hopes others will take COVID-19 seriously.

SALISBURY, N.C. — The family of a Livingstone College student who died from coronavirus is warning others to take it seriously.

Jamesha Waddell passed away Thursday after a weeks-long battle with COVID-19. Her family said she had a bright future.

She was set to graduate from Livingstone College in December, with dreams of working for the FBI.

“She just loved everybody," her younger sister J'Niya Waddell said. "She loved Livingstone College. Good grades, very smart, intelligent young lady. Just Jamesha, Jamesha. There’s a lot to say about her, I could go on and on."

Waddell was clearly loved by so many.

“She was wonderful. She had a smile that would light up the room,” her cousin Whitney Waddell said.

RELATED: Livingstone College student dies from coronavirus complications

Waddell, and several of her family members, contracted coronavirus. She ended up in the ICU, fighting for weeks. Waddell spent her 23rd birthday on a ventilator before losing her battle.  

“She was fighting at first, and then, she just couldn't fight no more; it took over her body,” her sister recalled.

Her family is now begging others to understand how dangerous and deadly the virus can be, no matter how old or young someone is.

“There’s a white wreath right down the road at my cousin's house," Waddell's cousin Tameca Jenrette. said. "Right there, that made it real. It’s real. It’s real. And we just need everybody to do their part."

RELATED: Mecklenburg COVID trends 'starting to accelerate,' officials say

The president of Livingstone College, Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr., put out the following statement:

“Our hearts were saddened when we learned that Jamesha Waddell, 23, a senior, departed this life earlier this morning. Jamesha left our campus on September 19, 2020, and was self-isolating at home due to the COVID-19 virus. While isolating at home, Jamesha’s condition worsened, and she required hospitalization and intensive care. This morning, her spirit transitioned due to complications related to the COVID-19 virus.

Our prayers and heartfelt condolences are extended to the Waddell family and her loved ones during this very difficult time. However, we should be reminded that earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. We are in communication with the family and will keep you posted as information becomes available.

Students in need of grief counseling may contact Rhonda Flowers-Corpening, our mental health counselor, at (704) 216-6990.

As our student body prepares to depart from campus next week for winter break, we strongly urge everyone to remain vigilant in mitigating the spread of this virus by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands frequently.
May God give us all strength and courage during this difficult time.”

As devastating as this loss is, Waddell's sister believes it will encourage her classmates to take it seriously.

“Jamesha is going to have an impact," J'Niya Waddell said. "She’s going to change something, and I know it. Because people are going to know this is real now."