UVic student graduates top of her class while fighting COVID-19

UVic student graduates top of her class while fighting COVID-19
WatchChelsea Kutyn battled for her life for 29 days with a troubling case of COVID-19 and still managed to graduate at the top of her UVic class.

University of Victoria student Chelsea Kutyn battled COVID-19 symptoms for 29 days straight and still managed to graduate with distinction at the top of her class.

“It felt like when you get your blood pressure taken and they put that band around your arm and it puffs up, that immense sense of pressure. It felt like that around my entire chest cavity,” said Kutyn.

The 27-year-old was living at home while going to school and first started feeling symptoms of COVID-19 back in mid-March.

She self-quarantined herself in her room to help keep her family safe and only spoke to them and her boyfriend on the phone while looking at each other through her glass sliding doors.

“Every meal we’d carry food down to her, set out her food in from of her room and back away,” said Chelsea’s mom Cindy.

But even getting to the door was a feat of its own.

“I’d have to stop to take a breath and sit down even between my bed and the doorway, which is five feet maybe? It was just that difficult to breathe,” said Kutyn.

None of her family showed symptoms of the virus, but say it was incredibly hard to watch.

“I was terrified, absolutely terrified,” said mom Cindy. “I watched her progressively worse, day by day, hour by hour and there was nothing I could do about it, there was nothing we could do to help her.”

Chelsea, whose lungs helped her as a vocalist in UVic’s bachelor of music program, never saw it coming.

“I thought being young, 27, relatively fit, and with a super, super fit respiratory system because of all of my singing, I thought I would not catch it, but I was seriously sick in bed,” said the vocalist.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC), people aged from 20 to 40-years-old now constitute the highest number of confirmed cases in the province at 1135, beating out the previously dominant 40 to 60-year-old demographic.

Many are raising concerns about seeing younger people in large gatherings, who are not social distancing and not wearing masks, such as the informal drum circle on Third Beach in Vancouver or the busy parties at Langford Lake, seen earlier last week.

The singer is urging everyone to follow precautions. After being COVID-free for months, Kutyn still struggles with breathing.

“Cardio, anything with a raised or elevated heart rate, like a double set of stairs I’m pausing halfway through,” said Kutyn. Obviously it has affected my singing, and that’s my biggest concern.”

She was still able to graduate with distinction, with the highest grade in her class and is planning on continuing her singing career and education in a graduate program in voice performance in Winnipeg, this fall.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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