Dordt College News

The Dordt College community remembers Professor Cella Bosma

May 9, 2009

Family, Dordt College staff, students, and friends shared memories, offered tributes, and gave thanks to God for the work and life of Education Professor Cella Bosma.

At a special memorial service held on campus on April 3, the campus community remembered Education Professor Cella Bosma and the contributions she made to students, colleagues, and the education offered at Dordt College. Professor Bosma died on March 28 following a battle with cancer. We share some of the reflections made that day.

Cella will be missed for a long time by all of us, students and faculty. She is missed because we still need her gifts, especially her gifts for teaching and of helping others.

We are sad because, although Cella was ready to die, she did not want to die. She was too full of life to die. That makes our sadness stronger. I met with Cella in early February to discuss her teaching load for 2009-2010. She fully expected to be at Dordt next year teaching full time. I heard from her daughter that when she went into the hospital during spring break she was thankful that her surgery and treatment would happen during spring break because she would have time to heal and return to teaching at Dordt after spring break. Cella wanted to be here to teach and to help others. She wanted to continue to use her gifts to help her students, and we (faculty and students) still need her gifts.

I read the comments left by students on the flower table by her office. Many focused on her willingness to help her students. I will read just a few examples….
“You always welcomed me with an open heart and open arms.”
“You always took the time to care about each student.”
“I always wondered why you asked me how I was doing each time we met. Here you were fighting cancer and you wanted to know how I was doing.”
“Thanks so much for all the time you gave to others.”

In the last year, as Cella experienced setbacks with her cancer, we had many conversations about life and about death.  The question of “why me” came up often but it was always followed by “why not me.”  She knew that God was working with her, through her, despite her, and she was okay with that.

One characteristic of Cella’s that stands out to me was her willingness to help anyone and everyone. She loved teaching so much that I think she would have agreed to teach every education course in our program if she had the time to do it. She loved advising so much that I think she would have agreed to advise every student in the education program if she would have had the time to do it. You could say this characteristic was a weakness. You could say this characteristic was a gift.

We all recognized that loving spirit and servant heart in Cella. I think that all of us education professors believe that we also have a loving spirit and servant heart. But something that became really clear to me this week is that no one can really fill the emptiness left by Cella’s passing. An e-mail I got from a student this week reminded me of how much Cella is missed. This student was not officially Cella’s advisee but Cella was advising or helping her anyway. As I said, Cella could not say no to a student who needed help. This student wrote “I need help. I’m kind of mixed up in my schedule for next year, and I need someone to help me figure things out. Mrs. Bosma always used to help me, but I’m not sure who I should turn to next. Can you help?”

What could I say? Of course I will help you. But as I said it, I realized that my promise of help was not what Cella provided for her students. Cella’s gift of helping others was extraordinary. The rest of us will all step forward to help, but no one can replace who she was for her students. Cella is missed.

Dennis Vander Plaats, Education department chair

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