Memorial to be held for teacher

Dr. Susan Colón, a former Baylor associate professor of literature in the Honors Program, died this past summer. Her memorial will be held on Thursday.
By Jessica Chia

A memorial will be held at 4:30 p.m Thursday for Dr. Susan Colón, who passed away this summer after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma last year.

The memorial will take place in the Alexander Reading Room of Alexander Residence Hall.

Colón, an alumna who joined Baylor’s faculty in 2002, served as associate professor of literature in the Honors Program, faculty sponsor of the student-run undergraduate research journal “The Pulse,” assistant director of the University Scholars Program and assistant dean of the Honors College.

She completed her undergraduate degree in English at Baylor.

“We want to allow the students a chance to mourn, to grieve, to remember and to honor her life,” said Dr. Thomas Hibbs, dean of the Honors College and distinguished professor of ethics and culture.

Colón, who was 39 years old, is survived by her husband Carlos, scholar-in-residence in the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion and artist-in-residence at the Armstrong Browning Library, and twin daughters, Monica and Elise, who are in sixth grade.

“Obviously this was devastating for everybody, especially for them [her daughters] and Carlos,” said colleague and family friend Dr. Victor Hinojosa, associate professor of political science in the Honors Program.

Colón taught Great Texts classes and first-year seminars for Honors Program students.

“The strongest memory I have of her is her at her desk in the Honors College. Every time I walked by there would be a student already in there, always laughing and working,” Hibbs said. “She had a very good sense of humor.”

Tyler senior Wylie Wyman, a University Scholars major and ‘Pulse’ staff member, said Colón was a role model for her and many of her female peers.

“She was definitely a mentor and someone you could look up to. I know so many girls, Joy and myself included, who think of a truly feminine academic, and Dr. Colón is the first woman who comes to mind,” Wyman said. “She was a woman and an academic and made the two work together.”

Colleague Dr. Elizabeth Corey, assistant professor of political science in the Honors Program, agreed.

“She was above all a model, especially for young women students. Someone they could aspire to be: a mother, a wife, someone who balanced career and family without sacrificing either on. A lot of students will say, ‘That’s who I want to be in my scholarly life,’” Corey said.

To Boerne senior and University Scholars major Joy Freemyer, president of “The Pulse,” Colón was an adviser, professor and fellow church member.

“She had a lot of integrity in the way she did things. She was very gracious and patient with students,” Freemyer said. “She treated all students very fairly. She didn’t have favorites.”

Wyman added that she felt Colón truly valued students.

“She made me feel very comfortable in my own skin, with my own ideas, and to be very vulnerable in expressing them,” Wyman said. “She was a person of remarkable generosity of time, of effort, of everything, just warmth and generosity.”

Hinojosa said several students flew to Waco this summer to attend Colón’s June 27 funeral at Dayspring Baptist Church in Waco.

“There are lots of students that will tell you she was the biggest influence on their time at Baylor,” Hinojosa said.

Those who knew her best said although Colón enjoyed her academic pursuits and professional duties, she made time for other things.

“She loved to read. She loved Carlos and she loved the girls, and she loved the church,” Hinojosa said. “Church was important to her and to them. Worship Wednesday nights, you always saw the Colóns.”

“When Susan told you she would pray for you, she meant it, and would ask you about it later,” Hinojosa said. “She was one of those folks who cared about her friends.”

Both students and peers said all aspects of Colón’s life were in harmony.

“She didn’t have separate lives,” Hinojosa said. “Her scholarship came from her faith commitments. In Sunday school, she would ask brilliant questions, because that’s the way her mind worked. Those things flowed together.”

“It’s hard to be a good teacher, scholar, spouse, mother and church member. She didn’t want to have to pick. She worked really hard to be good in all those things,” Hinojosa said.

“What I think she would tell you, is that her biggest legacy was her girls,” Hinojosa said. “She was devoted to Monica and Elise.”

Colón took a leave of absence during the spring semester of 2012 and spent the last two months of her life in a Dallas hospital, where visitors said she received them with the same warmth, faith and strength she exhibited in full health.

“She suffered; I know it was really difficult,” said Dr. Lynne Hinojosa, associate professor of literature in the Honors Program. “When she was able to take visitors, she was able to make them feel comfortable.”

Hibbs said Colón’s death was a great loss.

“We lost a great teacher, scholar, administrator. We lost a friend, confidante and a guide,” Hibbs said.

Students, colleagues and friends can honor Colón’s memory by attending Thursday’s memorial service or donating to the Susan Burrow Colón Scholarship Fund.