Speakers addressed the challenging and emotional topics of defining loss and dealing with and learning from grief at a roundtable conversation on March 30 in the Roxboro House.
M.S. industrial design student Haru Jang read her essay “The Gift of Grief: How to Save a Life” in the freeform discussion, sponsored by Philadelphia University’s Arlen Specter Center for Public Service. She won the Daniel Gerstein Award for her essay about being raped at 9 years old and how an unlikely friendship gave her strength.
“I have come to learn the hard way that we grieve because we love, and I would have never respected this life without that grief,” she wrote. “Although loss can blindside the unsuspecting and haunt the bereaved, we do not have to become its victims. Instead of pushing grief away, let it motivate us to seize opportunities, appreciate our loved ones, and perhaps empower us to save a life.”
The “Gift of Grief” essay contest and $250 first-prize award were established by Community and Trauma Counseling (CTC) faculty member Fran Gerstein and her husband Stuart Gerstein, a 2016 graduate of the counseling program. Their son Daniel died suddenly in 2014.
Fran Gerstein led the discussion, which also included panelists Christine Kennedy, assistant professor in the CTC program; Mary Jane Hurley Brant, group psychotherapist; Rebecca Gerstein, licensed social worker; and Frani Pollack, licensed social worker and psychologist.
The following PhilaU students earned honorable mentions for their essays: Amanda Alexander, innovation MBA; Brianna Giarraputo, fashion merchandising and management; Sunny Granger, M.S. in midwifery; Aubrey Kohl, graphic design communication; Tennyson Tippy, M.S. in user experience and interaction design; and Alana Waters, health sciences.