When college junior Calista Kelintop had to end her school year on campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she started doing what so many others have to help out: She made face masks.
But she wasn't making these masks out of cotton, or any material found in most homes. She painstakingly folded scraps of hospital material and sewed them together.
"I knew I had the sewing skills to make the masks so there was no hold up, there was no hesitation," Kelintop said.
The person who donated the material: the very same doctor who delivered her 20 years ago.
Kelintop's mother and Dr. Maureen Cernadas have been close friends since college. Weeks before there was an outcry for PPE at hospitals across the tri-state and the country, Kelintop's mom and Cernadas had a chat about a school assignment Calista had to make hospital-grade masks. The student had wanted to work with a fabric known as Hayland H600.
"It ends up, it is a material that we use to wrap all of our surgical instruments that we use in the operating room," Cernadas said.
The Virginia Tech student started getting to work on the masks just as sick patients began flooding emergency rooms in New Jersey. So far she's made at least 300 masks, with each one going to the staff at St. Peter's University Hospital — the very same hospital where Kelintop was born, and where Cernadas still works.
"That's just really cool, you don't often get to see life come full circle this early in life," Kelintop said.
"I'm very proud of her and I'm very proud of the woman she's become," Cernadas said. "Brings me to tears and I'm honored to be connected to this."
Kelintop said she thinks she can make at least 150 more masks. "We have so much material that was sent to us, so many more to make," she said.
While ultimately the student will be graded on her fabric research, the doctor who has known her literally her entire life already has her score in mind.
"I giver her an A plus, with extra credit," Cernadas said.