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University honors deceased student’s memory

Hasiet Joy Negash captured in a candid moment on the metro heading to Los Angeles. | Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

Biola’s spring semester began with students grappling with the loss of sophomore communications major Hasiet Joy Negash. The university is offering grief counseling and will hold a memorial service on Feb. 5 to honor her memory.

Negash died on Jan. 15 from an asthmatic episode during a Student Missionary Union sponsored trip to India. Biola set aside time to honor Negash during the Convocation chapel on Jan. 26 through remembering her and observing a moment of silence, said Danny Paschall, dean of students. In a chapel service later in the week, Chapel Programs brought in psychologist Maribeth Ekey to talk to the community about how to address grief. Grief counselors were available for students to meet with after the chapel.

SMU and Student Development are giving special attention to Negash’s fellow team members to assist them in their grieving process.

“We’re wanting to empower them too. Like what would be helpful, what do you need, but we have counseling. We have group counseling. We have spiritual directors lined up for them,” Paschall said.

The memorial service, held at 7 p.m. in Chase Gymnasium, will be Student Development’s main way of honoring Negash’s life and will focus on incorporating all of the organizations on campus of which she was a part. A reception will directly follow the service in the Mosaic Cultural Center. Student Development initially planned to hold the service on Friday, Jan. 30, but decided to delay it to accommodate Negash’s parents, Paschall said.

The team was initially scheduled to return on Jan. 23, but under the circumstances returned on Jan. 20, said Wesley Range, senior business and accounting major and vice president of SMU. Upon the team’s arrival SMU and Spiritual Development put together a care plan to assist the team members with debriefing and handling their grief.

“Obviously it’s a very traumatizing experience for them, but they’re dealing with it in a very mature way. It was a lot of prayer. I’m very proud of the team and the way they have handled it,” Range said.

The death of Negash is the first time a student has died on a SMU missions trip. In recognizing her role on the India missions trip, SMU is certain that students will be safe when participating on future missions trips.

“We’ll still be able to do SMU trips as we’ve always done. We obviously want to be very certain that we are sending out students in a safe manner,” Range said.

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Judith Mendelsohn Rood, Ph.D.

    Has anyone considered funding an event celebrating Ethiopian Christianity at Biola in her memory? The Ethiopian Church is a treasured chapter in our multicultural story-- I know that Hasiet would be overjoyed we would remember her people's precious legacy to us. February 10, 2015

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