The Delgado community is saddened by the passing of our esteemed and beloved colleague, Melanie Deffendall, on Saturday afternoon, April 25, 2020. She had been hospitalized in New Orleans for three weeks, struggling against COVID-19.
Deffendall—“Mel” to her many friends and associates—was a Professor of Sociology and College and Career Success Skills. She was the founder and director of the Irma Thomas Center for WISE Women at Delgado.
Mel’s career at Delgado began in September 1996. Over the years, she influenced the lives of many Delgado students, especially first-generation students. After the Hurricane Katrina disaster, she worked to help restore the college and bring students back.
In 2003, she established the Irma Thomas Center for WISE Women as a safe haven. WISE is an acronym for “Women in search of excellence.” The center empowers women to help fulfill their academic, personal and professional potential. Its namesake, Irma Thomas, is known to generations of New Orleans residents as a cultural icon, and as a role model for working women seeking to improve their lives through education and career opportunity.
Mel’s work in support of students and social justice earned her the admiration and respect of her colleagues and the entire Delgado community. She was honored with the Seymour Weiss Excellence in Teaching Award in 2017.
A profile of Mel appeared in the New Orleans Advocate in 2015. Based on a StoryCorps interview by her son Benjamin, it relates the long history of her family in New Orleans and details her commitment to higher education and social progress.
The New Orleans Advocate and nola.com published an obituary of Mel written by John Pope, the acclaimed obituary writer who has chronicled the passing of many notable New Orleanians.
Mel's family provided an extensive obituary for publication in the New Orleans Advocate and nola.com.
A statement from Mel’s sons, Benjamin and Matthew, follows:
With broken hearts and grateful spirits, we announce the passing of our beloved mom, Melanie Deffendall, on Saturday, April 25 at University Medical Center in New Orleans following her battle with COVID-19. She was a teacher, mentor, colleague, advocate, advisor, and friend to so many throughout her 24 years as a member of the Delgado Community College family. Thank you for uplifting us with your prayers and outpouring of support over the past month. As you told us about the difference she made in your world, we were comforted to know that you saw her like we did, as a warrior for social justice, a champion for equity and a friend to anyone in need. Her legacy lives on in the Irma Thomas Center for WISE Women, which she founded. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in her memory to the center. Mel was a tireless advocate for women and her life was a testament of her strength and perseverance in the face of adversity. Eat a brownie in her honor, help someone in need, and then tell them Ms. Mel said so.—Benjamin and Matthew Deffendall, sons.
Others in the Delgado community are remembering Mel:
We have lost a great one. She was a staunch supporter of Delgado Community College and an absolute advocate for our students. In my 20 years of working at the college, I have known Melanie well, and I had the pleasure to work with her on numerous initiatives and projects. Looking back, I can say that every initiative we worked on was student centered. Melanie was an advocate for our students, and this was evident in not only what she said but what she did: the creation of the Women's Center, a place with the sole purpose of being a safe haven and a resource for women; and the development of the student success course, initially created to provide first generation students with the tools they needed to navigate and be successful in college. There are endless initiatives and stories to tell about this selfless woman who poured so much of herself into Delgado and our students. Melanie will truly be missed. Her work and her legacy will live on.—Larissa Littleton-Steib, Delgado Chancellor.
Melanie was a wonderful, giving person who always worked to inspire her students. Her encouragement and generous spirit helped many young women and men continue their education and make themselves better people. If she didn't have it, she would help you find it...that's just who she was. Her honesty, advice, and work in the W.I.S.E. Center helped many young people get on the right way. She'll be greatly missed. - Irma Thomas, Delgado graduate, Grammy Award winner, and namesake of Delgado's Irma Thomas Center for W.I.S.E. Women.
Our Delgado family is very sorry to learn of Melanie’s passing. She could relate to
students in an amazing way by encouraging them to strive for their best. Her door
was always open to help. Her student-centered legacy will live on in the many lives
she’s touched. - Harold Gaspard, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and
Allied Health Dean.
This is truly a great loss for our community. She has changed the trajectory of countless lives with her words of wisdom and compassion. I am one of those lives forever changed. —Shelly Planellas, Adjunct Instructor, College and Career Success Skills.
Ms. Deffendall was my mentor when I was a student. She is the reason that I teach at the College today. She is irreplaceable. She will be missed and never forgotten. Thank you, Ms. Deffendall for enriching my life and the lives of so many others. - Dee Shedrick, Colleague and former student.
This is a tremendous loss for our division and the college. Melanie Deffendall was a tireless advocate for our students both in and out of the classroom. She loved teaching, she loved our students, and she loved Delgado Community College. Her days were filled making sure our students would succeed and build better lives. Her acts of kindness are legendary. She provided bus tokens to students in need. She made free HIV testing available to our entire Delgado Community. She kept an overflowing bowl of condoms out, front and center, free for all. She bought books for students and kept the Center stocked with school supplies. These large and small acts of kindness changed many lives. We are all better because of Melanie Deffendall. She will be greatly missed. Please keep her family in your thoughts. —Emily Cosper, Communication Division Dean.
Melanie really had a passion for her job and her students! Delgado has lost a super teacher and friend. She was a great supporter of our athletic teams and helped many a student-athlete pursue their dreams. Our thoughts and prayers to her family and colleagues. May she rest in peace. -Joe Scheuermann, Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach.
I will always remember the amount of support you showed when I ran the SGA. You went
above and beyond for me when I needed support for my mentally ill husband. I can never
repay the kindness you showed. Many prayers for your family and friends. Such a great
loss. - Vanessa Robichaux, former student.
Mrs. Deffendall literally took me under her wing when I came to Delgado. I had one class with her “college success skills” which was one of my favorite classes. She would make me sit in the front row and say “don’t make me call Dr. Thomas” lol. My mother taught her at University of New Orleans years ago. She was always so sweet, very kind hearted, caring and a loving person with a GREAT personality. After my father passed in 2016, I sat out of Delgado for a whole year and when I decided to return, Mrs. Deffendall welcomed me back with a BIG hug, open arms and awesome words of encouragement. She always had my back even when I didn’t have my own. If I had a problem she would stop what she’s doing just to help me with whatever problem I had at the time. She never turned me around, she never told me to come see her at a later time. She would Always tell me if she wasn’t in her office to just call or text her. She was forever available for her students. My mother and I will miss her so very much. This one is hard. - Dashia Thomas, Instructor.
Melanie was a joy to work with on the 75th Birthday Party for Irma Thomas which was a fundraiser for the WISE Center. Rest on, sweet Mel. - Cynthia Jones, Institutional Advancement.
Melanie had a wonderful dry sense of humor. I would enjoy looking back in a room to catch a glance of her expressions as she delivered a sincere, pointed statement coated with a sprinkle of levity. She cared deeply. I will always do my best to follow her lead. - Barry Brantley, Professor and colleague.
Melanie was a good buddy who was ALWAYS there to lend support to everyone. We can all take comfort in knowing she is up there fighting for all of us - that brings me comfort. We all have a new guardian angel whose name we know! Her legacy lives on through those whose lives she touched with her kindness and compassion - and, YES, her wonderful brownies!! - Terri Gonzales-Kreisman, Professor and colleague.
A student advocate through and through and a friend I will deeply miss. She took teachers under her wing. I was a lucky one to be mentored by her, and luckier to call her a friend and confidant. She made me laugh with her dry humor and witty remarks. Those lucky to know her will forever be better and those who hear her legacy will strive to emulate her character. - Amanda Rosenzweig, Professor, Biology Department Chair and collegue.
Very sad loss for our Delgado community, sociology, and human rights. Melanie was a mentor and inspiration to me with her commitment to women and the world, imparting the need uphold the commonality of our humanity. - Kenneth Brad Ott, Colleague and fellow sociologist.
I want to send love and hugs, I overlapped with Mel a bit when I was at Delgado. She had a class right after me, in the same classroom, for several semesters. We were in totally different fields, so she didn't know my work and Ididn't know hers. But I knew she was a wonderful person. She did so much. - Marion Freistadt, Assistant Professor.
The loss is incomprehensible. Mel was my friend, colleague, partner in teaching and mentor, too. Deb's words were fitting, "there's another angel out there;" somehow, Melanie took on that role in the earthly life as well. One story: it was during a time, sometime after the storm, Mel and I were talking about morale at Delgado and the need for us (faculty, staff, students) to do something creative together. So Mel (it boggles my mind how she did these things) arranged for a local, acclaimed artist to come to campus and conduct a workshop on "hat making". If I'm not mistaken, WISE paid the stipend for the special guest. We marketed it everywhere, but you can never tell who'll show up. There were so many faculty, staff and students who came that first night, we had to schedule a second section! Each section had around 25 people-- new and familiar faces that we got to know better. And we made hats together. Extraordinary, campy, whimsical, sleek, alien-looking, amazing hats that started as paper bags. It didn't stop there. So Mel (it boggles my mind how she did these things) talked to the art director at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the next thing we knew, our hats were on display at the Ogden -- for the run of their current show. Thanks, miraculous Melanie, for your morale-boosting magic. I wear this red arm band for you in memory and deep sympathy for your family and the entire Delgado community. - Angela Breckenridge, Adjunct Instructor.
I am devastated by this news. Mel has been a valued colleague since I started working at Delgado in 1997. We became good friends a couple of years ago when she travelled with the honors program to Greece. We were fantasizing about team-teaching the Honors Activism and Change course some day... My deepest condolences to her family. - Stephen Edwards, Colleague and Delgado Honors Director.
It is impossible to put into words what Mel did for our students. When students confided in me about personal struggles, I would send them to Mel and call her to tell her their story. She was always welcoming to those in need and had guidance for them to put them on the path to a better life. There has been a huge emptiness inside of me since I read of her passing. I will miss our hallway talks where we would jokingly solve the problems of the world:)! She served our students tirelessly and I know the Delgado Campus will feel a void due to her absence - I know I will. Rest in Peace. - Betty Vix, Professor, Science & Mathematics.
She was and still is one of my favorite teachers. Every time I saw her in the halls she greeted me with a smile on her face. I love and adore her and miss her already. Delgado will not be the same without you Ms. Deffendall we love you. - Molika Anderson, Former student.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Deffendall this semester and she is a force to be reckoned with. She was one of the most caring and kind teachers I have ever had at Delgado and she will definitely be missed. I am praying for her family that they get through these tough times. Thank you Ms. Deffendall for all your kind words of encouragement and teachings. -Nyla Poche, student.
Mel was a colleague and friend. I am an ESL adjunct and Writing Coach. We worked down the hall from each other and I would stop by the Women’s Center to see her daily. I will miss her dearly. I hope that the college continues with the Women’s Center. It is important to students and her legacy. -Donna Johnson, Instructor, English as a Second Language.
I am deeply saddened. She has always been an inspiration and a guide in establishing the WISE Center at the West Bank campus. I still remember her presence at the first WISE meeting we had . She gave such valuable tips to establish WISE. The last contact I had with her was when she came to attend the "Bollywood " Dane program I organized. As she stepped into the Timothy Baker Theater, I ran to her and said, " I am so thrilled that you came to attend my program". She smiled and patted me, said, "How could I miss an event like this?" Her presence always reminded me of her love and respect for cultural diversity, respect for students and colleagues' work effort. I pray for her rest in peace -Sadhana Ray, Instructor and Vice Chair, West Bank Campus W.I.S.E. Center for Women.
As I sit in disbelief over such a great loss, I am honored that I got to know her. Her inspiration and dedication will forever be remembered. Thank you for everything my sweet angel. -Nidjia Thompson, current student.
I worked with Ms. Mel for the past ten years at Delgado. She was an extraordinary mentor for me and a fierce advocate for students. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family, friends and the Delgado Community. She will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her. -Geralyn Morrell, Assistant Professor, College and Career Success Skills.
Ms. Mel was the first teacher I had at Delgado and she was so inspiring that I signed up for the next semester with her. She wasn't afraid to talk about her experiences, she was relatable and funny, and she genuinely cared. She will be missed deeply, but I count myself lucky to have been one of her students. - Elizabeth Stringer, student.
I am stunned and deeply saddened to hear about the loss of my esteemed colleague. Melanie and I served on several DCC committees together. Her wit and dry sense of humor always made meetings entertaining and tolerable. She was a staunch advocate for students and faculty. Melanie and I traveled with a group of Delgado faculty and honor students to Greece in 2018. We laughed, ate, drank, explored ancient ruins till we dropped, and enjoyed an epic experience! My sincerest sympathies to Melanie's sons and family. Melanie's passing is a monumental loss to the Delgado family. -Cheree' Wiggins, Colleague and Faculty, Nursing
When talking to Mel about work and how to best serve our students,I never felt rushed or that she was in a hurry to get through her conversation with me.Her kindness, thoughtfulness,concern about your well-being and fairness was just as much of her personality as her fight for equality for all including her teachers and students. She never was too busy to address my concerns. Her calm spirit and willingness to help gave me the feeling that she" looked out" for me and this made my job easier.I knew Mel for 13 years and I can say that Delgado has lost a Jewel and there will never be another Melanie Deffendal. Rest in Peace my Friend. - Betty Gordon, Instructor, CCSS
Mel was the lady with the 'Beautiful Smile'. I absolutely loved when she passed our Business and Technology Office. I was sure to get a Friendly Hello and a Great Smile! Whether in her office, hallways, restrooms or off campus, she always greeted me with her lovely smile. I will never forget this lasting impression! She represented Kirk Franklin's song with ease 'I SMILE'. -Suzette Rankins, Administrative Assistant, Business and Technology
Mel was not only a coworker but a great friend. She was one of the many that welcomed me when I first arrived at Delgado. We had many conversations and she always lifted me up thru good and bad times. I will miss her dearly and to her family, my prayers and thoughts are with you. Friends are like stars even thought sometimes you cant see them they are always there. Will Miss You Mel. - Yolanda Gill, Bookstore
Melanie Deffendall was one of the best professors I ever had at Delgado Community College. I took her for SOCI 151 and I looked forward to that class every day simply because she made the class interaction with one another in a fun and respectful manner. I would always recommend her class to students because like I said, in the beginning, she was one of the best. I never had an instructor who just oozes spunk, flair, and tough-love. She was so understanding, yet she will let you know in a heartbeat that she had zero tolerance for ignorant behaviors especially in her class. She was honest and efficient with everything she did and now I am realizing why I was so drawn to her as a professor. She reminds me of someone who I hold dear to my heart who had the same fighting spirit as Mrs. Deffendall. All and all, Mrs. Deffendall will be truly missed and my thoughts and prays are with her family through this tough time. -Darnell Sparrow, Student
It is will sincerest condolences that I express the loss of Melanie Deffendall. Melanie hired me to teach CCCS as an Adjunct Instructor almost 9 years ago. Melanie mentored me and assisted me in pursuing Full Time employment here at Delgado. Every conversation with Melanie ended with "Let me know if I can help you." And she meant every word of that. Melanie was steadfast and often relentless when it came to student advocacy. Melanie wanted to see people win in every aspect of their life and that meant a lot to me. I owe my career at Delgado to Melanie and to say that she will be missed is an understatement. Melanie and those "brownies" are unmatched! I send prayers to her family, the Deglado family and community she assembled during this difficult time. -Nia Davis, Student Services Coordinator, Adult Education Program
My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Ms. Melanie's sons at this difficult time. She was always kind and very helpful on many occasions. She will definitely be missed! May her soul rest in eternal peace. -Shannon West, College-Wide Assistant Registar
I am devastated hearing of Mel's passing. She was a very kind woman. We'd recently had the chance to get to know each other better at a Delgado UndocuAlly seminar where we partnered on all the exercises. We had plans to implement some additional sources of support for undocumented students at the Wise center. I'm not gonna give up on our plans and ideas Mel. Rest well my friend. -Jennifer Laners, Administrator, Student Open Computer Lab
Ms.Melanie was an amazing teacher. She was my Cultural Diversity teacher. She was one of my teachers in my final semester at Delgado before graduation. What I remember the most about her was her encouragement. She believed in her students. She will be missed. -Raven Steward, Student
I wish to offer my sincerest condolences to Melanie's family, friends, and colleagues. Mel's passing leaves me with a heavy heart. Similar to many in the Delgado family, I consider Mel an advisor and friend. Because of her advocacy work, I would periodically reach out to her for advice during my academic studies. Each time, Mel had a listening ear, words of encouragement, and offered to help me in any way she could. Her dedication to the Irma Thomas Center for WISE Women was remarkable and inspiring as she was so grateful to be of service to others. These are the memories of her I will cherish. Rest in peace, Melanie. -Trenece Black, Administrative Assistant
I am so grateful for meeting and working with Melanie. She taught me that speaking up for students was one of the highest priorities of faculty and staff. At one committee meeting, she was constantly asking "What is in the best interests of the students? Answer that question and you will know what to do". I was amazed that the services offered by the Women's Center were not already provided by the college. Which of us now will step in for Melanie as a student advocate? -Sal Anselmo, Colleague
I want Melanie's family to know that they did right, and all that they could. She was very proud of them, even if she showed tough love sometimes; her expectations were high. If they listen carefully, I expect they will all hear her advice from time to time. Melanie was a dear friend, and she was a great advocate for women. She always had time to listen to a person in need, and she found pathways for many women in distress, as well as fostering strength of character in students, especially at-risk students. Perhaps the best way to honor Melanie is to have time and a kind word for those in need. She will be missed. -Erin vonSteuben, Professor, English
Ms. Melanie is a part of my extended family. To me she is like an auntie in my family. Her son Ben and I are like brothers or cousins. Even though Ben and I I’ve been friends for over 20 years, I really didn’t get to know the full power of her awesomeness until 15 years ago after returning home after my Hurricane Katrina exodus. I came back to give back to my community to teach my passion, art. As a young educator, I needed some guidance and Ms. Melanie was there to advise me. She encouraged me to become the best teacher and artist that I could be. If I ever needed assistance with anything in life or in teaching she was there to listen and help. She encouraged me to teach and share my gifts with Delgado while I was part time at NOCCA. As any good nephew would, I took her advice. I applied for the job and got the job teaching four classes. It did not hurt that I was highly recommended by Ms. Melanie. I had an amazing and rewarding experience teaching classes at Delgado before I was able to teach full time at NOCCA. During my short time at Delgado, I witnessed firsthand the amazing work Ms. Melanie was doing for her students and for all the women who came to The Irma Thomas Center for Women in Search of Excellence (W.I.S.E.). The uplifting I saw her do for women of color was truly breathtaking. Any student I had in art class who had trouble writing, creating a resume, or just needed some help with life skills, I did the right thing and sent them to Ms. Melanie. She was truly Super Woman! She knew how to help them with whatever they needed. I could help with art or 3D design but I knew when I was out of my league. Ms. Melanie was there to save the day. Even though we are not related by blood, Ms. Melanie always made it clear that she was proud of me as if I was one of her own. Ms. Melanie, thank you for your love, wisdom and heroism. Your legacy will live on in all of us. I promise to do my best in helping others and sharing my gifts as you have shared with so many. -Marcus Brown, family friend and former Delgado colleague
Sending blessings to the family of Melanie Deffendall, as I reflect on the memory and character of Melanie. We learned that Melanie was sick through my step-son who is good friends with Ben, one of Melanie's sons. However, we were somewhat-shocked to learn that Melanie had passed because we thought that she was doing much better. My memories of Melanie are when she used to come into the English Writing Center, and she would speak to everyone. Some days, Melanie would bake these delicious brownies, that were almond-flavored. At the time, I had never heard of almond-flavored brownies. To me, that was Melanie's own creative recipe. Thanks, Melanie, for brownies that smelled like 'wedding cake.' - Lisa DeCuire-Brown, former Delgado Writing Center tutor
You were an absolute rockstar. I knew immediately upon meeting you that I was in the presence of *somebody.* Was drawn to you. Wanted to show you my best and do my best work. I'd spent a good portion of my life dumbing myself down to be palatable to others, for the sake of social ease. I'd grown accustomed to a sort of cognitive dissociation where I'd just go on "autopilot" to get through and get by, but ultimately, be alone inside my head. I couldn't go on cognitive autopilot around you--you compelled everyone around you to snap open the shades and THINK; it was completely involuntary but also gentle and without fuss: you simply walk into every room and switch on the lights...and the rest of us wonder what the hell we'd been doing, trying to get anything done in the dark the whole damned time. You made me want to be nurturing of and accountable to the women in my life. You made me feel like I could. You made me feel like my contributions could be worthy and wanted and effective and helpful. You made me want to pay forward. I'm sorry I never wrote that piece for you in 2017. I never told you why or that I was struggling with depression and had been hospitalized at one point; I just flaked--I have held this regret and intended on explaining to you all this time. It hurt that I'd disappointed you, but also, I believe it was an invite to your inner circle and I totally blew it. I'm sorry. And I'm sorry I never said sorry. I think I will honor you best by finishing my education and letting my baby daughter see me collect that prize. I will think of you on that day, in cap and gown. And I will hold the door for the women behind me. Good night. So it goes. - Jennifer Cavallari, former student and friend
Ms. Melanie was the most kind and sweetest person. Ms. Melanie offered me a teaching position in CCSS last Fall. She was with me every step of the way with encouraging words. She only saw the goodness in others. I will never forget her. I will miss her caring spirit. We have loss a great pioneer but heaven has gotten a beautiful angel. -Wanda Crawford, Adjunct Instructor
I have determined there are not enough words to impress upon the world the impact Melanie had on me and all those that had the privilege to be inspired by her dedication to her fellow man. She was a Professor of Sociology and Director of the WISE (Women in Search of Excellence) center at my college. My graduate thesis focused on women and in 2009 I was asked to present my topic at Notre Dame University and I was terrified. It was Melanie to the rescue to calm my nerves. She invited me to lunch. That lunch changed my life; she began by offering the WISE center to practice my presentation. Crisis averted thanks to Melanie. From then forward we had sushi lunches for the past 11 years and I will miss those conversations discussing each other’s families, school, society as a whole. From her kind generous offer forward I knew I had a friend, confident, and a place to present my passion of women’s history to a broader audience. I am a better person for knowing her. Melanie was a calm in a storm when helping others. Every single time I had a student in need of help because she was either terrified, bruised, bloodied, and in desperate need of help from domestic violence it was Melanie I called because she would help find a safe haven for anyone in need. I became a hoarder of toiletries from hotels and convinced my friends to do the same so they could be donated to the WISE center knowing Melanie would provide those resources to those in need. I never bought one toiletry I always bought two and donated the second. Melanie was a tireless advocate for women. I am a better person for knowing her. The last time I saw Melanie, we were crossing paths while Delgado was in the process of closing and I told her I had a bag of toiletries in my office waiting for her. We agreed I would give them to her when we got back to campus. My last words to her were “be safe” and I meant it with every fiber in my being. I knew the world needed a champion like Melanie when our world was off kilter. She touched the lives of those around her in a positive way, and we all loved her. Life will not seem the same without her dedication to all that knew her. I am a better person for knowing her. -Jennifer Lang, Associate Professor of History
Melanie Deffendall was a wonderful coworker and friend— a paragon of wisdom and a true champion for social justice and charity toward others. She was an advocate for so many. I will fondly remember the talks with her in her office, lunch at Lakeview Pearl, and working with her on events for the women’s center at Delgado. This is a tremendous loss for the college and the community, and I don’t believe I could ever justly describe the person she was, the contributions she’s made, and the difference she’s made in so many lives. I pray for comfort for her family. I love you, Melanie, and will carry you in my heart forever. -Leslie Salinero, Communications and Marketing
Melanie was a special lady. I will miss her. She was always ready with a kind word, a smile or a listening ear. She will live on in my heart and memories. -Judy Louderbough, Reading Open Lab Tutor
Melanie was kind, smart, and took action rather than just dream. She helped more students than any teacher I’ve ever known. -Jesse Boyd, Coordinator of Music and Music Business
Melanie was a Class A teacher. No wonder she won the Excellence in Teaching Award, I'm surprised she didn't win it two or three times. Melanie let me sit in on her classes and I saw firsthand why the enrollment always filled up in her classes. She made a huge personal investment in Delgado and the students who attended. Delgado will not be the same without her. -Claire Giesen, Sociology colleague
I waited until I felt ready to say something. She was a mentor and friend. She was generous with all yet frugal with herself. I think about her every day. But, today, most of the day. This was the one day she took time for herself. She would go to the zoo and celebrate Mother's Day with Irma Thomas. Today would have been another Mother's Day concert from Irma. But, there was no live concert and no Melanie. She will live on in the hearts, minds, and stories shared by those whose lives she made better. -Jeanne Samuel, Distance Learning and Instructional Technology
Mrs. Melanie, I will never forget her. She gave me the opportunity to work with her for more than 2 semester. After finishing the ESL program, she offered me the opportunity to work with her. Not only did I improve my English but I also learned a lot of personal and professional skills. This semester I was doing my Intership at the Women Center and I will graduate, and she told me that she will be there. I feel like I lost an aunt or a special mentor . My children love her since she always sent them a card for Christmas and birthdays. How to talk about her without my eyes filling with tears. She always had the correct answer and if she did not know it she would say, "we will find it." I will miss spending my mornings with her, chatting or sharing a breakfast. I will miss her hug every Friday before I go home. Oh Ms. Melanie I will miss you so much and thank you for your love and helping me believe in myself. Thank God that I met her and learned to love, value and serve with all my heart as she did. I miss her. -Karol Pineda, student worker