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Mount Mercy University Student Dies Of COVID-19 At The Age Of 21

People light candles during a prayer and candle vigil organized by the city, after the recent shooting at a WalMart in El Paso, Texas.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Mount Mercy University announced this week that a student has died at the age of 21 after contracting COVID-19. Student Ashley Hudson was an aspiring kindergarten teacher, according to the university.

A Mount Mercy University student has died of complications from COVID-19. The school announced this week that student Ashley Hudson succumbed to the disease on Monday at the age of 21.                                

Hudson was studying education and was an aspiring kindergarten teacher, according to the university. This week, her life was cut short by COVID-19, which as of Tuesday has killed 6,401 people across Iowa, according to state data.

Mount Mercy held a vigil for Hudson at the campus’ Chapel of Mercy Monday night and is offering grief counseling services to students, faculty and staff free of charge.

In a statement released this week, university president Todd Olson called Hudson’s death “deeply painful” for the small campus community. About 1,700 students attend Mount Mercy, a private, Catholic liberal arts university.

“I, along with our entire campus community, extend our deepest sympathies to Ashley’s family, friends, faculty and staff, and peers during this profoundly difficult time,” Olson’s statement reads. “With a campus as tight-knit as ours, losing a member of our community – especially a student – is deeply painful.”

Social media posts from Hudson’s family members indicate that she had been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator and had fought the disease for weeks.

“Still here holding her hand and telling her how much I love her and how good she's doing,” reads a message posted to Facebook on Sept. 18 by her father Kevin Hudson. “I'm asking god again to heal my baby girl. She has so much life ahead of her and she's such a good kid and an even better soul. Again asking everyone please prayers for healing and thank you.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, family, friends and loved ones had raised some $6,475 for Hudson through a GoFundMe account, money which had been intended to go towards her recovery costs, but which now may be donated in her honor, used to pay funeral costs or be refunded to the donors, according to the page organizer.

“I’m at a complete loss,” organizer Matthew Franks wrote in an update on the GoFundMe page. “Ashley we all love you so much, I truly [cannot] see a world without you in it.”

Across Iowa, 65 percent of people aged 18 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID. Research indicates that the shots remain highly effective at limiting the chances of severe illness leading to hospitalization and death.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter