Lily Atwood

How one CUW student made the most of her time in isolation by going the extra mile to inspire others who might later find themselves in her position.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24 is the favorite Bible verse of Lily Atwood (’25), a hospitality and event business major (with an art minor) from Sheldon, IL. So, when faced with COVID-19 isolation in Chemnitz Hall earlier this semester, she didn’t just take these words to heart; she put them into action. Beckie Kruse, director of residence life, explains:

“When a student is released from isolation, housekeeping comes in to prep for the next time the room needs to be used,” said Beckie Kruse, CUW director of residence life. “This usually entails more than the expected deep cleaning. It’s usually recovering a lost sock, replacing a water container, removing trash from food delivery, etc. But Lily actually left the room better than she found it! She decorated the room and began a community-builder by leaving her name and dates posted on the wall.”

Chemnitz Covid Suite

Lily herself expresses best why she did it:

Being in Covid isolation came with the resounding realization of how loved I truly am by the people around me. My family and friends are truly remarkable people, and I could not be more thankful for them.  They brought me things I couldn’t get for myself, made me things out of pure love, kept my spirits high, kept me engaged in the creative/artistic side of myself, and helped me to truly flourish as if I were already out of isolation. Because of them, my disconnect from everything felt far less significant, while the bonds I have to them were truly strengthened.

I was the only one in the suite during my time with COVID, and I was starting to really miss my family and friends. My stay in the suite began at the beginning of fall break, when I was expecting to see my family, but by God’s great plan, I got COVID and was unable to go home.

Obviously, I was sad about this because I was really sick and missed everyone, but I didn’t want that to get the best of me. In fact, I didn’t want that to get the best of anyone else who might be in the same position in the future.

So, I came up with the idea of decorating the suite. It made my time go faster, and it made the suite more fun to be in. It kept my mind off the things I was missing out on by being in isolation, and it brought me joy by brightening up the suite. After all, it can get kind of boring looking at the same walls all the time!

Most of all, though, I did it for the next people who have to stay in the suite. I want them to start off with a brighter experience than I did. I hope they can feel community and connection through the decoration project I started, and I hope they can continue the tradition of signing their names and dates of isolation to the main wall of the suite. May this little activity I started bring others happiness and connection through their challenging times of sickness. I hope they can all feel the same love I did while in isolation.

Covid Suite Post-it Note

For her generous act of outreach, Lily has received a Positive Outcomes Program (POP) award from the Dean of Students’ Office, given to students who “go above and beyond to serve their fellow Concordians and the community.” Awarded throughout the school year, the program is financially supported by Alex M. Marchan, Northwestern Mutual Managing Director, in Glendale, WI (

“I’m really proud of her for turning such a tedious time into an opportunity to literally leave her mark,” said Kruse, who nominated Lily for the award.

But her true reward is less tangible: the satisfaction of loving God by loving people, and serving Christ by bringing some love and light into a potentially dark situation.

“I never thought this small action would get so much attention at CUW,” Lily said. “It was never my intention to gain a spotlight from it, nor to receive any sort of praise. In fact, I feel I cannot take full credit for what I did. I was inspired by my friends for most of it, and I couldn’t have actually done any of it without them.”

To nominate a student for a POP award, email Dr. Steve Gerner, dean of students, at Be sure to include the student’s name and a brief description of the student’s action.

For more information about student life at Concordia University Wisconsin, visit


— This story is written by Mike Zimmerman, corporate communications manager for Concordia University Wisconsin. He may be reached at or 262-243-4380.

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