Rebecca Hawk was the biggest advocate for Chick-fil-A I’ve ever met. When we had extra time during group interviews that she helped to leave, her favorite question was “McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A?”, and was VERY attentive to participant responses. She always let me know when there was a sale at Old Navy (it was dangerous information to have as a grad student). She made a pact with me to not cut her hair when I was trying to grow mine out. And as of yesterday, Rebecca is no longer with us.
The victim of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a car left on under her apartment overnight, Rebecca was pronounced dead when she arrived at the hospital. The news reached me at work last night, just as one of our first events with my present students was getting going. It shook me in a way that I truly didn’t expect. I’m notorious for my reputation as a “robot”- for not crying when something sad happens- but realizing that Rebecca won’t be someone that I see when I visit Tampa, fully coming to the understanding that she really is gone, has really shaken me.
Rebecca, and the other students that I had the pleasure of working with either directly or incidentally in the Center for Student Involvement that year, met me at a really important time in my career. Coming from working at the community college, I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted my relationship with my students to look like. I was still struggling with the boundaries between being an authority figure and a resource, while also letting them know me as a person. I settled on my current style because of Rebecca and students like her. She was personable and open, but was also professional enough to get her work done and understand that working with young professionals didn’t mean also being friends with them. She made me unafraid to let students know me, and for that (along with every trip I make to Old Navy for quite some time), I’m always going to remember her.