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UNF employee dedicates third floor Library study room in student’s memory

Imagine you and your friend are driving with the windows down and tunes blaring. You’re off to enjoy a typical day of sunshine and relaxation on Jacksonville Beach, when suddenly your face goes numb.

This is what happened Nov. 18 to former UNF business junior Kristin Magdalein, for whom a study room is dedicated.

“It was really sudden,” said Callie Downing, a UNF education sophomore and best friend to Magdalein. “We talked on the phone just minutes before, and she said she didn’t feel good. She always has migraines, so it wasn’t abnormal for her to say that she had one.”

Downing said they stopped the car and called for an ambulance. She was flown to Shands Hospital in Gainesville due to bleeding in her brain. The doctors discovered a blood clot in her brain the size of a tennis ball.

Magdalein was born with a rare disease called arteriovenous malformation, which affects less than one percent of the human population. Most people with the disease experience few symptoms, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s website.

“If you don’t look for it, you don’t know you have it,” Downing said.

The next day, Magdalein was rushed into surgery to remove the clot and relieve the pressure from her brain.

Downing said Magdalein lived through the surgery, but there was so much trauma on her body and brain that doctors were forced to induce a coma.

The clot damaged the parts of her brain that would have allowed her to move, see and speak, leaving her paralyzed, blind and mute, Downing said.

Her family took her off life support after several days of her being unresponsive.

“I know she wouldn’t want to have been trapped in her own body,” Downing said.

Downing and Magdalein worked together at Maggiano’s in the St. Johns Town Center and spent most of their time outside school and work together.

“She was my absolute best friend, my sister,” Downing said. “Everyone loved her. She was a social butterfly.”

Magdalein was heavily involved with her church, worked two jobs and attended night classes at UNF.

To honor Magdalein’s life, one UNF employee is dedicating a study room in the Library to her memory.

Sarah Philips, director for public services, has been working at the Library for nearly 20 years. Philips and her family donated $2,500 to the Library to dedicate a third-floor study room, 3104, so students can remember Magdalein. A plaque will be set on the door in her honor sometime in February.

“My granddaughter was a close friend of Kristin’s,” Philips said. “I didn’t know her that well, but her life touched a lot of people, so we thought it was a nice way to honor her and her family.”

Philips said she picked a third floor study room because they are big and have large windows.

“It is a pretty floor in general,” Philips said. “It has stained glass, and it’s quieter up there.”

Philips said she hopes the room will give Magdalein’s friends a place to go, to remember her and their time with her. She also hopes it will encourage people to dedicate more rooms in the Library.

“She wasn’t just some girl,” Downing said. “If I die when I’m 80, I don’t think I would have impacted as many people as Kristin did by the age of 19.”

The dedicated rooms on the third floor:

Room 3105: The plaque reads “Gift given by Evelyn C. MacDonald in memory of her uncle James M. Watson”

Room 3102: The plaque reads “Gift given by Mark E. Workman in honor of his wife Lynn M. Workman”

Room 3104: The plaque will read “Gift given by the family of Sarah A. Philips in memory of Kristin Magdalein.”

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  • K

    Kim MagdaleinFeb 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Kristin’s mother and I can’t adequately express our appreciation for the outpouring and loving concern from those who knew Kristin and even those who didn’t know her that well. The dedication of the study room at UNF Library is a magnificent reminder of how much people care when tragedy strikes. We want to publicly thank Sarah Philips and her family for so thoughtful a gift in memory of Kristin. We pray that lives will be touched by this tender reminder of a life well lived. When students see the plaque they will, no doubt, wonder who Kristin was. She was dedicated to God, her family, and an abiding belief that life is a gift to be cherished and lived to the fullest.