As a transfer student, I sometimes compare my experiences from community college to my experiences at Biola. I often have “wow” moments when I realize how unique Biola is and how blessed I am to be in this special place.

Before I move on I want to clarify something: I never intend to bash on my old school. I’m glad I chose to spend two years there! However, when I naturally notice contrasts between that school and Biola, I get to appreciate Biola even more!

Recently, I noticed a contrast between my old school and Biola: the way the two schools handled and reacted to my grief and/or loss.

During my sophomore year at community college, I had a scary family emergency. I was shocked and worried for a few days after doctors discovered my dad’s brain tumor.

I could hardly focus in school. “Does my dad have cancer? What if his brain surgery doesn’t go perfectly? What does this mean for our future? How should I feel about this?” So many questions weighed heavily on me.

But school continued as usual. Nobody at my school really checked on me. I had tear-stained eyes in class, but my classmates acted awkwardly toward me. Some professors expressed sorrow for me, but they couldn’t offer much more. It was hard to grieve in that space.

In contrast, dealing with grief at Biola has been much easier.

Recently one of my very favorite professors (Professor Simon) unexpectedly passed away. He had had a significant impact on my life, as well as almost everyone else in the Public Relations and Journalism Department (MJPR). Hearing that he was gone was devastating to me.

But I was quickly reassured that I would not be alone in processing the loss.

Two Public Relations (PR) professors promptly sent a genuine email to us PR students. They acknowledged what had happened and left us with some words of encouragement. In the days to come, they continued communicating with us through loving emails and updates of what was to come.

They have gone above and beyond to walk through this with us. They started off the next week with a Monday morning “community time.” Us PR students were met with hugs and given space to cry and talk. The professors cried with us, prayed with us, and even offered to go with us to pastoral counseling if needed. They reminded us of the hope and encouragement we can have because of Jesus.

Then for the rest of the week, our professors turned all of our formal lecture periods into times for discussion and reflections about Professor Simon. They wanted to make sure we had time to grieve before moving forward.

All of the efforts they’ve made to comfort us has blown me away. This week I have repeatedly heard the phrases, “We will get through this together…As a community…Together…” And we certainly have. This morning we all sat together, students and professors, in a chapel service to remember Professor Simon.

Biola is special; and I think the way the faculty have navigated this specific hardship is a good picture of what the Biola community is like. If you attend Biola, you’re going to be surrounded by some very caring people.

Thanks for reading! 

Jess