When your community suffers a loss it has an impact of every member of the community, no matter the individual's relationship with the person.
On April 2, 2019, when I received an email from the chancellor of Syracuse University I wasn't expecting to see that Dean Lorraine Branham had lost her battle with cancer. Dean Branham has been the dean of Newhouse, the public communication school here at SU, for over 10 years and she had an impact on every student she has come in contact with. As a Television, Radio, and Film student in Newhouse, of course, I knew who Branham was and was deeply saddened when I heard this news.
I wouldn't say I had a close relationship with Dean Branham by any means, but her presence was sensed throughout the school.
During opening weekend my freshman year, I attended the Newhouse new student and parent brunch. Like many other students there I clung by my parents still unsure of my new territory. It was the Friday before classes started and I had moved in less than 48 hours before. Not to mention this was the last event my parents were attending before it was time for them to say their goodbyes and leave me on this unfamiliar campus all by myself.
So needless to say I was scared.
However, at this brunch full of sad parents and nervous new students, there were many faculty members present, including Dean Branham. I can't remember every conversation I had that day or who I even spoke to, but I remember Dean Branham. Everyone was eagerly approaching the dean hoping to have a small conversation with her. I remember my parents and I even conversing with her for a bit. She was able to take away some of the nerves and for the first time made me feel like I could belong here.
Later in the day after saying goodbye to my parents and having to watch them leave, I had to prepare myself for my Newhouse orientation. I was scared and alone and didn't know what I had just gotten myself into. My peer advisor was an amazing first resource at Syracuse and is still a friend to this day, but when she led us to the Newhouse convocation I automatically felt a sense of community.
Between all the fear, excitement and the new environment, I don't remember a lot of what Dean Branham said in her speech, but I remember feeling at home in Newhouse.
As someone who holds a high position in college, their interaction with the students can be limited. However, even though I'm not sure how many times I personally interacted with Dean Branham, I believed she was there looking out for me and all my fellow Newhouse students. Her presence on this campus will be missed, but the sense of community she built not just in Newhouse, but throughout the entire campus will help carry on her legacy.