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Students, Faculty Help Bring Christmas to Nurses in Iraq


Also contact: Jennifer Hanson, 978-934-3108,

LOWELL ߝ Laura Olisky-Kostura won’t be home for Christmas this year. She’ll be celebrating it, thoughߞ;and making it merrier and more abundant, for more people, than she could possibly have done at home.

Olisky-Kostura is in Iraq. She has been there since this fall, when she left her brand new husband, Danielߞ;whom she had married on the same weekend last June as her UML graduation, which she missed to attend her weddingߞ;to join the army in Baghdad as a nurse.

Stationed at one of two hospitals in Baghdad (she is not allowed to say which one) Olisky-Kostura could be in Iraq for as long as one year.

Olisky-Kostura has been emailing with UML Prof. Mary Ellen Doherty, her former teacher, during her time in Iraq.  Over the course of their correspondence, Olisky-Kostura told her Doherty how she and the other nurses in Baghdad often miss some of the little luxuries from home such as skin soap, cleansers, moisturizer, manicure kits and peanut M&Ms.

Doherty shared the emails with other UML faculty and student nurses who immediately started to take up collections for the nurses.  Piles of soaps, deodorants, skin cream, manicure kits, candies and small treats started to grow until the packages were mailed to Olisky-Kostura, who will share them with the other nurses in Baghdad.

“Laura will get them, and she’ll take them around. She’ll be our Santa Claus over there,” says Doherty.  “I think of it as bringing Christmas to the nurses in Iraqߞ;to thank them for all the people they’re helping, for what they’re doing for the country.” 

UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

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