MOBILE, Ala. – An unexpected, emotional reunion captured on video at a ribbon cutting ceremony at University of Mobile and seen nationwide days later on NBC Nightly News is truly a story of God at work, say Erika Samuels and Philip Streit.
“This chance reconnection could only have been orchestrated by our Heavenly Father. This story resonates with so many because it speaks of God’s saving grace, mercy and love,” said Samuels, a senior in the University of Mobile School of Nursing.
That moment was captured on video by UM’s Marketing and Public Relations Office and quickly went viral. (See their reunion at http://tinyurl.com/umreunion.)
It caught the attention of NBC Nightly News correspondent Tammy Leitner. She and her crew arrived at UM to interview Samuels and Streit, and that story aired to a national audience on NBC Nightly News on Feb. 26. (For the NBC story, go to http://tinyurl.com/umnbc.
It happened at a ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 21 for UM’s new Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice. The Baptist university was also announcing major expansions in academic programs and renovations throughout campus. Samuels in her UM nursing uniform and UM School of Nursing alumnus Streit, now a nursing administrator at Providence Hospital in Mobile, Ala., in his nursing scrubs were in the audience.
Samuels was also featured on a video about the new state-of-the-art healthcare labs. When her name flashed on the screen, Streit realized this was his former patient, one who had touched his heart 15 years ago. After the ribbon cutting, as people streamed by to tour the labs, Streit approached Samuels and asked if she had been in a bad car accident years ago.
“I was your nurse,” he told Samuels.
It all came streaming back to both of them – the 21-year-old Samuels whose car had been hit by a drunk driver that died at the scene, and Streit, the recent UM nursing school graduate who held her hand and picked the broken windshield glass from her hair.
“I almost lost my life that night, and to have the one who cared about me while my parents weren’t there – he gave me more than nursing care, he actually gave me life,” Samuels recalled tearfully. That compassion and care were reasons she decided to enroll at University of Mobile and earn a nursing degree.
Streit said the heartwarming reunion story of a patient and her nurse came at a time when people are longing for good news.
“Basically, people are fed up with stories of division, hate and negativity. Every once in a while, it’s nice to hear stories that show good old-fashioned kindness, compassion and positivity. I think that’s why this story spread as it did,” said Streit.
Their story “touched on a lot of subjects…love, race, God, compassion, and the fact that what nurses do is important every minute of every hour of every day. The smallest act, holding her hand, meant the world on this night. Nurses are sometimes there when family or loved ones cannot be,” Streit said.
He added, “I think every interaction we have means something. God puts you in every single place for a reason. We just didn’t realize how important this place was until 15 years later.”
Samuels said she is thankful for the beautiful friendship that has developed from her reconnection with Streit, and that they will soon share another connection as UM alumni when she graduates in May.
“I am confident in stating that the work he began with the nursing care provided to me will continue on with me. I proudly carry the torch and I pray that I can touch someone’s life the way that he has touched mine,” she said.
About University of Mobile:
University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in over 40 areas of study. Founded in 1961, University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.
For more information about University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.edu or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.