JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. --- Colleagues and friends are mourning the loss of a Quillen College of Medicine resident physician, who was killed in a plane crash in Ethiopia on Sunday.
Dr. Manisha Nukavarapu was a second-year resident physician studying internal medicine. She's described as kind, dedicated, and talented, by those who knew her best.
Dr. Utsab Panta is a second-year internal medicine resident who has known Nukavarapu since the two interviewed for residency positions at QCOM years ago.
"She was that kind of person who was friendly to everyone," Panta said.
Panta worked with Nukavarapu on the day before she left on a trip to Kenya. She was visiting her sister who recently gave birth to triplet boys.
"We waved goodbye to her and she said 'I am going to have the best vacation ever! I did not know that it would be the last goodbye," Panta said.
Nukavarapu was known for being friendly to everyone she met, and being someone who could draw the entire group of residents together.
"I wish I could have made a better goodbye, had I known about this. That's one thing I regret. I could have spent more time with her as a friend, but nothing can come back. That's the bitter truth," Panta said.
For those who knew her closely from the college where she was doing her residency, the loss of Nukavarapu is hard to fathom, and equally painful because of her talent and opportunity as a physician.
"She was a very intelligent physician and a very good doctor but she was very easy to work with," said Dr. James Myers, program director of the Quillen College of Medicine. "Every single time she came to my office to talk to my staff and myself she always had a big smile on her face, so I think I'll miss that smile most of all."
Physicians are forced to deal with tragedy all the time and have an obligation to move on. This time was different.
"I think it's different when your friend is perfectly healthy, and all of a sudden she's not with you. It's very hard to deal with," Panta said.
Quillen College of Medicine staff are meeting with residents on Tuesday, and plan to honor Nukavarapu, in some way, this year.