Helen Etuk, Who Planned to Be a Pediatrician, Dies at 20
This obituary is part of a series about people who died from the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
Helen Etuk dreamed of becoming a pediatrician. As a senior in college, she loved children and wanted to work hard to help them lead healthy lives.
And because she was raised by a single mother, Ms. Etuk was determined that once she became a doctor, she would take care of children, even if their mothers couldn’t afford to pay.
But she never got that far. She died of complications from the coronavirus in a hospital in Arlington, Texas, where her family lives, on January 12, her mother, Ellen Clinton, said in a telephone interview. Ms. Clinton said her daughter also had lupus, a chronic immune system disorder, and was feeling unwell from joint pain. She was 20.
Ms. Etuk graduated from the University of North Texas at Denton. Her mother said she took classes in person and although she wore a mask and tried to maintain social distance with other people, she developed a nasty cough that turned out to be a symptom of Covid-19.
“She blamed herself and said she made a mistake when she went back to school,” said Ms. Clinton. “She said that sometimes students pull down their masks to cover their mouths but not their noses.”
Her daughter was hospitalized for almost three months before she died.
Helen Otobong Etuk was born on February 22, 2000 in Dallas. Her mother works as a health advisor. Her father, Bassey Etuk, an Army veteran, was not involved in her upbringing.
In addition to their mother, three older brothers, Jeffrey, Jeremy, and Joseph Ayisire survive, as well as an older sister, Linda Ayisire, Mrs. Etuk.
Ms. Etuk sang in the church choir, was part of the Color Watcher at Lake Ridge High School in Mansfield, Texas, which she graduated from in 2018, and enjoyed watching the channels of history and discovery. But mostly she liked to read.
“She never asked about dolls,” said her mother. “She always asked for books.”
She loved novels the most. She started devouring Harry Potter when she was eight years old. The Twilight series was a favorite too.
“When I went to Walmart, she would say, ‘Can I buy books?’” Her mother said. “That’s when I knew she was smart.”
She paused before adding, “She would have done so much.”