This week, one of the employees of student programs is preparing to retire. Candy Stewart, well known for her work in financial aid, multicultural services and student programs is retiring after 20 years of service in Bellevue College. Candy describes herself as a “mother.” Adelai Gomez, current emerging technology representative for ASG describes her as “an extremely friendly person.” As he puts it, “My fondest memory is of when I met Candy, I mean, my brother worked here before, so the recognition was just instant. I looked forward to working with her every day.” “She would always stand up for the student’s independence,” says Lexi Bach. “She would always protect us as much as she could,” Valerie Boradina says, “she was always a very welcoming person. If we needed a picture, or anything, she would be there to help us.” Victor Houssa had quite a bit to say about his experience with Candy. “She’s been like a light bearer showing me the way.
She helped me navigate the college, helped me pick the right classes, helped me get to the right adviser for my major. She does so much, I mean, she’s even the adviser for the club I’m in. She’s like a mother to so many people here… She’s really going to be missed.”
Students aren’t the only ones who will miss Candy though. Coworkers, those who have worked under her, everyone feels the same way.
As Chris Stoynov, the project coordinator for student programs puts it: “Candy has been here for 23 years, and I’m so used to working with her and seeing her every day, that she’s almost a part of my family. She’s always been friendly, letting students come into their office whenever they wanted to. Some students actually just would hang out in her office all day, talking with her. When she’s gone, it is true that we will be able to find someone just as friendly, just as good at the job as Candy is… but it will not be the same. They won’t have the same feeling.
They won’t be Candy.” Nora Lance is of the same opinion. “She’s like a second mother to the students. Every now and then, someone that has left BC will come back just to see her.”
Even Faisal Jaswal the assistant dean of student services and Ata Karim, the vice president of student services had nothing but good things to say about her. Ata, a normally stoic man, was moved to tears, saying “Candy, you are my sister. You have done so much for the students and for this campus, and I really do not know how we are going to replace you. I just want to say to your family… thank you for letting us work with such a wonderful woman.” Faisal Jaswal even came to the school despite illness to see Candy off.
“I’m sorry if I’m a bit overwhelmed, but I served with Candy for 23 years, and I have known her every day of those 23 years, and it has been my honor that she decided to work with us in student programs.”
Though Candy may be leaving BC, she won’t be forgotten. Her legacy lives on through the students she’s worked with over the years. For example, Sai Gus says: “She’s very considerate. I work downstairs in C106, and every time she walks by, she goes out of the way to say ‘Hello, how are you doing Sai?’ It’s something that I’m really going to miss once she’s gone.” “She would always light up the front desk, and really, all of student programs when she came into the room,” says Chitalu Mamba. “Her hugs, her signature laugh… It’s really not going to be the same without them.”
Daniel Morris however, sums it up rather eloquently. “Candy is going to be remembered smiling. Every day she would walk into the building smiling. Even on days that she was sick, or days that she wasn’t feeling well, she would still be smiling. She was a ray of sunshine whenever she walked into the room.”