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Saturday, February 27, 2021
<p dir="ltr"><span>Roselle Derequito poses by the Bull Gator for her graduation photoshoot. Roselle graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Health Education.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Roselle Derequito poses by the Bull Gator for her graduation photoshoot. Roselle graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Health Education.

 

When Roselle Derequito worked for the American Red Cross in Gainesville, she was the first one to answer a 3 a.m. call and rush to provide assistance.

When she saw that a sister in her sorority, Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, had trouble learning a dance routine, Roselle worked one-on-one with her for two hours.

And when Roselle, barely able to speak, gathered up the strength to give a message from her hospital bed, it was to her nurses.

“Thank you for taking care of me,” Roselle told them.

After battling neurological issues for almost two years, the 25-year-old UF alumna died Wednesday at Florida Hospital Orlando. Prior to an infection that landed her in the intensive care unit Dec. 3, her parents had high hopes for her recovery.

“We lost our child,” said Rosalee Derequito, Roselle’s mother. “But I released an angel.”

• • •

Before knowing she wanted to study medicine, Roselle was already helping others.

After graduating from UF with a bachelor’s degree in health education in Fall 2014, she joined the American Red Cross, doing community outreach and disaster assistance.

Though calls came in at two, three, or even four in the morning, Roselle never complained, said Lien Dang, a sorority sister and American Red Cross coworker. She made sure to get someone to help as quickly as she could.

She also made sure to take care of the people working with her, Dang said. When Dang became frustrated, Roselle would tell her not to lose herself in the job and focus on the good they were doing.

“She truly was selfless,” she said. “She would drop anything to help anyone out.”

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After her time with the American Red Cross, Roselle planned on returning to UF for her medical degree.

Roselle enrolled in a Summer 2015 prerequisite class for UF’s medical school, wrote John Hines, UF’s public records and public affairs coordinator, in an email.

But before she could start, Roselle wound up hospitalized for seizures and other problems. To stabilize her, she was placed in a medically induced coma for four months, her mom said.

In August 2015, her boyfriend, Peter Cai, set up a GoFundMe website that raised more than $16,000 to help cover her medical expenses. Roselle’s AKDPhi sisters shared the link on Facebook, asking for help.

Klea Jampasar, one of Roselle’s closest sorority sisters, visited Roselle in the hospital several times.

Among her six years knowing Roselle, she said she treasured the quiet nights. Sitting in Roselle’s car long past midnight, the two would talk about growing old together.

“You never really capture those moments where you’re just sitting with one of your close friends, just talking about life at 3 a.m.,” she said, “but the memories that really stick out to me are the private ones that me and Roselle shared.”

During one of Jampasar’s many hospital visits, Roselle woke up and saw her, along with some of the other sisters from AKDPhi.

“I love you guys,” Jampasar remembers Roselle saying.

• • •

On one of her last trips before being hospitalized, Roselle posed for polaroid photos in Times Square, New York.

Standing next to her youngest sister, Leigh Ann Derequito, 18, they smiled in front of the flashing billboards.

Following her sister’s death, Leigh Ann Derequito said she and Roselle’s other sisters have grown closer. Over the last few days, they’ve poured over home movies, flipped through her scrapbooks and unearthed high-school planners and yearbooks.

Leigh Ann plans to bury the Times Square polaroid photos with her sister. She hopes it will make Roselle smile.

Mildred Anonoy, a nanny for the sisters for more than 20 years, said she felt like Roselle’s second mother. She said she’ll miss the happy moments, Roselle’s smile and her larger-than-life personality.

“She’s still in our hearts,” Anonoy said. “It doesn’t matter where she is right now. She’s still in our hearts.”

rellenbogen@alligator.org

@romyellenbogen

Roselle Derequito poses by the Bull Gator for her graduation photoshoot. Roselle graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Health Education.

 

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