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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Candy stripers reach out to patients

by Clara MacMillan

Public Relations
As she rolls the book cart down the hospital corridor, Alexzandria Gilliard knows she has something that will take patients’ minds off their woes. She has romance, mystery and adventure on her shelves.
Alexzandria Gilliard, 16, of West Ashley, brings the book cart to patients.

Gilliard likes to interact with patients as a candy striper in hopes of brightening their day. She also gains experience that may help her in her goal of becoming a histologist.
She is participating in MUSC’s candy striper program, which allows students ages 14 to 18 years, to volunteer helping patients for two weeks to learn about the medical  field. This summer, MUSC has about 35 candy stripers volunteering during each of the three summer sessions.
Candy striper Asia Johnson, 15, of Summerville, said she decided to volunteer because she wants to pursue a career in the medical field. Johnson’s typical day is transporting patients in Rutledge Tower.
“It’s a lot of walking and very busy,” she said. “This has given me hands-on volunteer hours and helped me to learn how to deal with every type of personality.”
Not every student is volunteering because they want to be in the medical field.  Harsh Sharma, 14, a freshman at Academic Magnet High School, likes helping people in the hospital and needs volunteer hours for school. He has participated in two sessions this summer and plans to volunteer again next summer.  
“It feels good when someone says thanks for volunteering and knowing that you have helped patients out,” said Sharma.
Candy stripers from left are Mayan Desouki, Harsh Sharma, Ashlee Carbone, Nora Obeid, Delia Juliana and Asia Johnson.

Another student, Nora Obeid, 14, of Mount Pleasant, wanted to spend her summer experiencing different career fields. “I don’t like having a boring summer, so I decided to try different things,” said Obeid.  
The program is popular with parents. Obeid’s mother, Eileen Obeid, said it has given her daughter a sense of accomplishment and pride.
“I’m especially proud of her for doing this volunteer work because she isn’t required by her high school to do it. She just wanted to do something useful with her time this summer, so all around it has been a great experience, and I hope she will continue to volunteer her time,” said Obeid.
In addition to transporting patients, candy stripers’ responsibilities include greeting visitors, delivering equipment, answering telephones, dropping off mail and flowers and filing papers. Many of the students also have other volunteer jobs.
Ashlee Carbone, 17, of Fort Dorchester High School, said this is her third summer with the candy stripers.  She enjoys volunteering, especially at the Ronald McDonald House and the American Heart Association.
“When somebody says ‘you just made my day,’ it makes your day, too,” she said.  
For information on the candy striper program at MUSC, visit its Web site at or contact one of the volunteer recruiters, Robert Watson at 792-3580 ( or Matthias Frye at 876-3102 (

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.