The international community of Grambling State University is still trying to come to terms with a stunning loss. Solange Thomas, a junior French major from St. Lucia, died March 11 after battling a short illness. A memorial is set for Monday in Grambling Hall from 5-7 p.m. Organizers request that attendees wear bright colors to reflect Thomas’ vibrant personality and zest for life.
Thomas, 25, matriculated in fall 2007 and quickly became an integral part of the community. While working steadily toward her goal of becoming a French educator, she was an active member of the Cross Cultural Club, where she held the position of secretary.
Thomas was also heavily involved in the Ancient World Association, an organization dedicated to the preservation of history.
A devoted Seventh Day Adventist, Thomas was part of the Adventist Youth Fellowship, transported members to service, and served on the cooking committee.
Thomas’ passion for teaching was evidenced by her French tutoring and time as a counselor for the L.A. GEAR UP summer program.
However, Thomas’ indelible imprint remains on the lives of those she left behind. Dr. Chimegsaikhan Banzar, a French professor, was Thomas’ adviser since her arrival.
“I miss her very much and feel devastated about her passing,” Dr. Banzar said. “She was very young and had beautiful dreams for her future.”
Associate Vice President at the Center for International Affairs Mahmoud Lamadanie remembered her colorful personality.
“She was wonderful and touched all of us. She was always smiling, friendly and laughing. I know she is in heaven, in a peaceful place with a merciful God.”
At Stadium View, the apartment complex she called home, friends and neighbors shared their treasured memories of their friend.
“Very, very friendly person and accommodating,” described Emlyne St. Helen, a senior nursing major.
Fellow education major Edward agreed that Thomas was “a very jovial person.”
Senior Criminal Justice major Bradley Fevrier admitted his first impression was sketchy. “Frankly, I thought she was crazy,” he laughed.
Graduating electronics engineering student Lane Elien agreed. However, they both discovered the method to her madness. “She was just a down to earth, people person.”
Senior political science major Tracy Francis recounted Thomas’ selflessness and generosity. “She was a giving person, caring and sincere. Even when she fell sick during the fall semester, I was ill and she would come to look after me.”
One sentiment echoed by all was her predilection for honesty.
“She was very outspoken, liked to speak her mind,” Edward recalled.
St. Helen concurred. “She was very open and opinionated.” Della Malcolm another nursing major, admitted that she has not accepted the loss yet.
No one was hit harder by her death than her sister, roommate and best friend Salwa Williams, a senior Hotel and Restaurant Management student.
“She was a role model to me,” she explained solemnly. “We had our conflicts but she never kept grudges and if she hurt you and knew that she was wrong, she would write letters to say how much she loved you.”
Williams also spoke of how the rest of the family is coping with the loss. “My mom has been strong. Throughout the illness she prayed with her and for her. It’s hard, but our mom has been our strength.”
One positive thing is that the Williams family has forged with the Lord. “It’s comforting to know that she knew what she was going through and she knew God. The fact that she knew God gives all of us hope that one day we will see her again.