Renetta Garrison Tull - Online

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Va. Tech Thoughts pt. 2, An Administrator's View

Thanks to friends and family who called/emailed to see how I was doing regarding the Va. Tech situation. I'm not at Va. Tech, and it's hard to even imagine the pain that everyone is feeling. From an administrator's point of view, I know from experience that it's hard to deal with tragic events on campus. I've had to deal with illnesses and even death, working with police, visiting students in the hospital, going to and even organizing campus memorials or information sessions. I've had my share of talking to family members left behind, helping students to cope, offering a shoulder to cry on. The interesting thing is that in all of this, sometimes I'm really nervous or scared,and I really and truly have to rely on God -- his strength and wisdom to help me make critical decisions and stay strong for the sake of the masses.

Many of you know that one of the most difficult situations in my life was losing one of my students, Jessica Soto Perez. I was on my way home after a meeting with grad students when two other students called my cell phone and told me that I had to come back to campus immediately. It's still painful to recall the details, the scene, to re-visit the emotions. I remember having to remain composed, deal with police, calm others, get information, make identifications, etc. There was no one else around, the other deans weren't on campus that day, plus it was after 4:30. I was the only administrative person around. I didn't go home until late that night, I watched the news still not really believing it even though I had been there.

That night was filled with making phone calls, the next days were excruciating. Still not believing what had happened, still not believing that such a shining star was gone from the earth. After all, less than 24 hours before, she was in my office, reminding me to recommend her for a conference, talking about her beloved Puerto Rico. Less than 24 hours before, she'd said good-bye with a hug and kiss on the cheek -- she always did that, all of my students from PR do. That day, the day after there were meetings, press conferences, student forums, etc. Then there was meeting the family, talking to them, not wanting to face them, not wanting to even imagine their sorrow.

To bring this around to a positive point, I think that it's interesting to see where we are now. Jessica would have been SO proud of all of her friends! Several of them (many in the pictures on the website below) have since finished their Ph.D.s, some of teaching in the Baltimore schools, some are now married. And me? I promised Jessica's Mother, family and professors at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez that I would continue to work to make sure that students from PR are able to reach their goal of obtaining the Ph.D.

It's been a few years now, that happened in 2004. Jessica's family has been so wonderful. My husband and I go to visit them when we have meetings in Puerto Rico, and they treat us like family. My Spanish is a little bit better, though I still have a long way to go. I've learned even more about God's peace -- that peace that passes all understanding. Remember that? It's in Phillipians 4:7!
Here is the whole chapter, there's so much to hold onto!
Phillipians Chapter 4

So, in the wake of Va. Tech., my heart goes out to all of those left behind to deal with the aftermath. May this tragic event take a turn, turn what was meant for evil into something good. Something good that will go far beyond the reach of Blacksburg, VA. I'm not sure what those good things will be, but with all of the prayers that are being said, with all of the love that is being shown on that campus, something is bound to happen! The prayers of the righteous avail much (James 5:16b), whole chapter NIV: James Chapter 5

I know that experiencing the loss of one student made a huge difference in my life, and her life's legacy has impacted tremendous numbers of students. There is a Bridge Fund in her name, a service award in her name, and we give her tribute annually so that every new PROMISE student knows her legacy.

To Mami Luci and the Soto Perez family: Que Dios te bendiga!
To all of the friends, family, campus community at Va. Tech: God Bless You!

To read more about Jessica, see her tribute webpage:

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Situation at VA Tech

I was stunned this afternoon when one of the PROMISE Graduate Assistants at UMCP came into the office and asked if I'd heard about VA Tech. I hadn't, so I went to google news immediately. It's nearly 8 p.m and I'm still peeled to the TV news to see if I can learn more. My Goodness! I care about all of the victims, and this especially hits home because as a campus administrator, I'm naturally concerned about the students on any campus. I'm also wondering about the well-being of our fellow NSBE, SHPE, and AISES students ... especially since the shootings took place in Norris Hall, the Engineering Building. In NSBE, VA Tech is in Region II, and I used to be the Region II Vice Chair many years ago. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the students, faculty, and staff who were lost in this tragic event. May peace reign going forward.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Another Ph.D. joins the ranks!

Today I had the pleasure of attending the Doctoral Dissertation Defense for one of our PROMISE students. She did a fabulous job and demonstrated her excellent science! Her advisor and committee used words like "outstanding" and "fantastic" to describe both her and her work. Days like today make those days when she and others were thinking about quitting. One of her friends, another recent Ph.D. was also in the group today. I was so proud to share in the celebration. So my word for the day is PERSEVERE! The dictionary says:
  • hang in, hold on,
  • be persistent, refuse to stop
If you're just applying to college or grad school or if you're a current student working toward your degree(s), keep plugging along; don't give up!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Connecting Work & Faith

My Christian faith is so much a part of me. I started this blog in December, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. I decided to develop it so that I could have an outlet to encourage college students based on Biblical principles. There's an old adage that says, " As long as there are exams, there will always be prayer in schools!" My plan to make this a forum to share information that will be encouraging and empowering! Let's see how it goes.

Something to meditate on (we recite this every Sunday at Mount Pleasant):
2nd Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work