Blount County native Logan Frazier says enduring Hurricane Maria was scary, and making it out of the situation alive was tough. But she learned a lot about herself, and now, she gets to keep learning about medicine in a familiar place.
"The hurricane was the scariest thing of my life," Frazier said.
Frazier attends the Ross University School of Medicine on the Caribbean island of Dominica.
As if getting a degree in medicine wasn't hard enough, getting it during a hurricane added yet another challenge for Frazier.
"We didn't postpone any tests, and we actually have condensed our timeline," Frazier said. "We're taking anything from five to 10 lectures a day."
Hurricane Maria came pouring down across the Caribbean in September, causing massive damage and destroying the school.
Now, Frazier's classroom is on a boat.
"Today during my test we were actually all seasick. So, that's one extra obstacle," Frazier said.
But there's hope on the ocean's horizon.
"We're just looking forward to doing stuff normal people do on their study breaks," Frazier said.
She's heading back to East Tennessee. RUSM and Lincoln Memorial University partnered to bring Frazier and her 1,400 classmates and teachers to facilities owned and operated by LMU in West Knoxville in January.
"I think we're just excited for the opportunity to get to Knoxville and have more space," Frazier said.
"While the island of Dominica continues to rebuild, we are pleased to have forged this arrangement with an outstanding university like LMU," Dr. William F. Owen, Dean and chancellor of RUSM, said in a statement. "The continuity of our students' education and their academic programming is our highest priority, and we are pleased to work with LMU to make these extraordinary facilities available."
The students are finishing their fall classes aboard a cruise ship off the island of St. Kitts.
RUSM will use its own curriculum and faculty while using LMU's teaching and office facilities, including an anatomy lab.
"Lincoln Memorial University is proud to be able to assist Ross University School of Medicine under these extreme circumstances. As an institution with a strong commitment to combating health care strategies in Appalachia and beyond, there is a synergy in providing the students and faculty of RUSM a home way from home while they rebuild from this fall's devastating hurricanes," said LMU Chairman Pete DeBusk.
LMU, which is based in Harrogate, offers three extended learning sites in the Knoxville area, including the LMU-Duncan School of Law, nursing at Physicians Regional Medical Center, and business, education and nursing at the LMU Cedar Bluff Extended Learning Site.
The school recently purchased the property in West Knoxville that RUSM will be using, according to DeBusk, and leaders are developing plans to further expand their offerings in Knoxville.
"In the meantime, we're pleased to accommodate RUSM with an excellent facility that is well-sited in size and scale to meet the needs of a medical school curriculum," said DeBusk.
Frazier is glad they'll be able to continue their classes, and eeing her family won't be so bad either.
"I called my mom first and I said, 'Our new location has been announced.' And she was expecting somewhere crazy and I said Knoxville, Tennessee and she started crying, and my sisters starting yelling in the background," Frazier said.
Making an already difficult degree, a little easier.
A spokesman for the city of Knoxville said they've had preliminary conversations about the students coming, and that Knoxville is willing to help in whatever way the universities need.