A GIFTED pharmacy student, who was killed in a crash, was honoured at a University of Sunderland graduation ceremony.
Jemma O’Sullivan, from Limerick in the Republic of Ireland, was 22 when she was killed in a motorway crash in September 2010.
Christopher Kane, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, was texting on his mobile phone when he slammed into the back of the car which Jemma and her boyfriend were in, on the M18 near Warmsworth, Doncaster.
Kane was jailed for five years and received a five-year road ban after admitting causing death by dangerous driving at Doncaster Crown Court.
Now, Jemma’s parents, Vincent and Margaret O’Sullivan, have sponsored the university’s Jemma O’Sullivan Award for Care and Compassion in the Practice of Pharmacy.
The award, which celebrates Jemma’s caring qualities during her degree course, marks a lasting legacy for her in the university’s department of pharmacy, health and well-being, and was presented to Haihua Sih at the Stadium of Light.
Haihua, 23, from Malaysia, was presented with a special glass gift by Jemma’s parents as well as a cheque to support her future career and is now on her pre-registration training at a community pharmacy in Chopwell, Gateshead.
A large glass memorial, created at the National Glass Centre, will be placed in the university’s sciences complex foyer and recipients will have their names engraved onto a plaque next to the memorial.
Haihua said: “I’m overwhelmed to receive this award, it’s such an honour to be the very first person selected to win. It has been a humbling experience meeting Jemma’s parents and it’s wonderful they are honouring her in this way.”
Roz Anderson, Professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, who taught Jemma and Haihua, said: “Jemma’s parents were very keen that the award didn’t necessarily reflect the top academic performance, but was about demonstrating the caring and compassionate qualities of a pharmacist. These are qualities I always think about when I think of Jemma, a really friendly person who was easy to talk to.”
Jemma’s dad Vincent said: “Jemma was a bright and intelligent young woman who brought nothing but joy to everyone who had the pleasure of meeting her.”
Jemma volunteered at an HIV hospice créche the year before she died, where there were 300 children, 80 per cent of them having HIV/AIDS. Her parents have decided to support the Leratong Hospice in her memory.
Vincent added: “It’s officially been called ‘Jemma’s Pharmacy’, there’s a lovely plaque at the site.”
A new initiative called ‘Jemma Bear’ is supported by South Yorkshire Police where around 500 teddy bears have been produced and will be used by family liaison officers to comfort children involved in collisions.
Vincent added: “We felt this project encapsulates her memory, allowing us in some way to continue her good work and preserve what she had represented.”