Elena resumes college

In 1998, Elena entolled at the Sonoma Community College intending to complete a college degree. Fifteen units was a very heavy load.

On 27 Feb 1999, my sister, Shelley (Micheline Clyde) received this lovely letter from Mom's professor, James Wong.

"Dear Ms. Clyde

            It is with much sadness and a tragic sense of loss that I learn of the passing of your mother.  I took a leave of absence, actually a sabbatical from teaching, and I have only recently returned.  Actually I would still be on the road researching but Chinese New Year brought me back.  Your mother took three classes with me, and her grades included D, B, B+.  I gave your mother the D because she had failed to submit essential assignments, but I always knew that she was a wealth of information.  I know that it may sound trite now but she made me a better teacher.  I sincerely mean it.  I was scheduled to return to teaching at Solano Community College for the Fall Semester 1999, and your mother and I talked about her taking more classes at the JFK Library in Vallejo. It was very hard for her to manage transportation to the main campus in Cordelia.

            Our last class in the fall semester of 1998 was History 33: History of Asians in America.  Our last class meeting for Monday evening, December 21st.  After class and the students had submitted all their late papers, I took the students to a small dinner at the China Cafe.  I had done the same the previous semester.  And in both instances, your mother was seated at the seat of honor; that would indicate the respect and love her fellow students had for her.  It shocks me that she fell ill less than 48 hours after my last seeing her.

I am still stunned, bewildered and lost.

            She was feisty, knowledgeable, and always supportive. She would bring magazines to class for distribution to her classmates.  She would relate her experiences and she always urged her classmates to do their best and to be PROUD of their Filipino and Asian heritage.  She would relate stories of her youth and years in the Philippines and of her years being acculturated in America.  On those occasions when I would drive her home after class, she would tell me of her scolding the college president and other administrators for not fully supporting the Asian and Filipino classes. I would hear later from them of her candor and her support of me as an knowledgeable instructor and as an instructor who cared for my students - extending deadlines, and by distributing handouts in helping students with limited budgets.  I always heard from other students, instructors, support staff and administrators how she would tell everybody to take my classes.  She was always proud of her children and she would tell me about each and every one.        I am in the process of searching through all the papers to retrieve her papers for you.  Please give me some time.  I believe I had returned most of her work.  But I will endeavored to locate what I can and then send them to you.

            Please accept my sympathies.  If I return to teaching at Solano Community College, I will not be the same without your mother there.  Though I cannot adequately nor fully assuage your loss, your mother will be truly missed.  Her passing diminishes me as a person.

                                                Very truly yours,

                                                James         (James I. Wong)"

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