By Nikki Martinez
A memorial service, called “Honoring Commitment to Pueblo’s Youth,” was held for Loisann Silver-Chacon, an Upward Bound advisor, on Friday in the Life Science Building at CSU-Pueblo.
Silver-Chacon, who worked as an Upward Bound advisor for nearly 17 years, died from heart failure on Monday, Jan. 17.
Ismana Carney, director of the Upward Bound program, gave a short speech about Silver-Chacon’s role in the Upward Bound program. Upward Bound, a program designed to help low-income high school students receive college preparation and higher education funding, was more than a job to Silver-Chacon. It was a passion Carney said to the audience of about 115 people.
Carney also read a note from Silver- Chacon’s husband, Paul Chacon, a math professor at CSU-Pueblo, who was not in attendance.
“Loisann was always described as a woman with a big heart,” said the note written by Chacon. “She would do anything for her clients or her students. She was skilled at cutting to the heart of the situation but at the same time she always respected other’s feelings.”
“Her heart was committed to helping others,” according to the note. “I know she will be sorely missed by all who knew her.”
Zav Dadabhoy, dean of student affairs, also spoke about Silver-Chacon.
Dadabhoy recalled the first time he met Silver- Chacon. A long time ago, he said he was in the old library wing late one night and saw Silver-Chacon hadn’t left the building. Silver-Chacon was trying to get in touch with a student about financial aid paperwork, he said.
“That was typical of Loisann. She was always one of the last people to leave the building,” Dadabhoy said.
Dadabhoy also recalled a student’s story about Silver-Chacon’s insistence of higher education funding paperwork. He said at an Upward Bound banquet, a girl spoke of Silver-Chacon’s persistent ways.
“In one particular case, she (the student) was working at a Burger King at the drive through window and here comes Loisann and she said, ‘I’ll take a burger along with a signature,’” Dadabhoy said as the crowd shared a laugh.
Silver-Chacon’s colleagues, Michael Manos, the executive director of TRiO Student Support Services, Sandy Landell, a financial aid counselor, Denaya Esgar and Anita Pando Sanchez, both former Upward Bound advisors, spoke about her work ethic as an advisor.
“Loisann was such an advocate for her students,” Landell said. “The front desk (at financial aid) would see her coming, looking frazzled and determined, and they would find me no matter where I was and I would come running.”
Former and current Upward Bound participants were also invited to speak about their experiences knowing Silver-Chacon. Many spoke of her unique ability to be a friend, mentor and role model to them.
“When I didn’t have a friend to go to, or a parent, she would always be there. I would call her,” said Devon Baca, a former Upward Bound participant. “I loved Loisann.”
Carney said she and others in the TRiO Program, which Upward Bound operates under, decided to have the memorial service after students and their families called to express their sadness.
“We felt it would be appropriate for us to respond to the students’ and parents’ grief,” Carney said. “Our campus came together with the dean of student affairs, Zav Dadabhoy, to put on this informal memorial.
“My hope is that the students leave here feeling a genuine sense of closure and celebration rather than sadness and inspired to succeed in college and life as a testament to Loisann and the love she had for them.”
Felicia Martinez, 17, a junior at East High School and a third year participant in Upward Bound, said the memorial service meant a lot to her and she attended the service both to pay her respects and gain closure.
“I think she would’ve really enjoyed this service,” Martinez said.