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Students to honor colleague with special graduation scarves

Students to honor colleague with special graduation scarves

By Kaitlin McMurry

This year's graduation ceremony will be a tad more colorful as many School of Communication students, faculty, and staff will be adding a Cameroonian flag scarf to their cap and gowns.

The graduates will be wearing the scarves in an effort to honor Digital Media and Storytelling graduate student Father Cesaire Mounda, who passed away in November. 

"It seemed both necessary and appropriate to honor Cesaire in some way. His life had a big impact on this classmates and the Loyola community at large, and that life deserves to be represented and honored at the graduation ceremony," said Jessica Vitkin, a second-year DMST student who spearheaded the idea.

It is difficult to put into words the impact Mounda, 38, had on his friends, classmates, teachers, and the Loyola community. He lost his battle with cancer last year, and his absence has been deeply felt within the School of Communication. 

On paper, Mounda was a member of the Community of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. He was an international student from Cameroon pursuing his Master of Communication degree in Digital Media and Storytelling at Loyola. An intelligent and driven man, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies at Loyola in 2017, in addition to degrees in philosophy and theology at Ecole Théologique St. Cyprien de Ngoya and Institut de Philosophie St. Joseph Mukasa in 2005 and 2011 respectively. 

Mounda was set to graduate with his MSC in May 2019. He was excited to start the next chapter of his life back home in Cameroon where he wanted to teach future generations video production and storytelling. 

But that just scratches the surface. His life encompassed so much more. He touched the hearts of everyone he met. 

“In our lives there are people we cross paths with that leave lasting memories. This is Cesaire,” said John Goheen, Senior Professional in Residence.

“Cesaire was a compassionate man filled with love and curiosity. He could light up a room with his bright smile and could have a conversation with any person that crossed his path. He showed me how important it is to live in the moment and take in the environment around me,” said Marissa Marietta, an undergraduate film major who joined Mounda and a handful of other students on a trip to Cuba for the COMM 373 class in March 2018.

“In the classroom, it is sometimes easy to get restrained by the student-teacher roles you perform when interacting with students. Interacting with Cesaire reminded me that our common humanity is so much more important than the superficial roles we are assigned by societal conventions,” said Bastiaan Vanacker, PhD, Associate Professor and Program Director for Digital Ethics and Policy.

“He will always be a reminder that life is about being humble, do everything with love and passion, set no boundaries, achieve whatever you desire and, most importantly, smile through it all,” said Queenie Ama, a second-year DMST student.

“He was kind, smart and was continually helping everyone. He always told me to be optimistic because life is short. This guy had very big impact on my life, I swear to you. He is my brother. I miss him and I will always miss him,” said Yousuf AL Hamadi, a second-year DMST student.

Mounda was deeply loved and respected, and he leaves behind his family. While he physically won’t be at the commencement ceremony in May 2019, he will still be honored with his MSC degree. 

If you'd like to celebrate Father Mounda by wearing a Cameroonian scarf at graduation, you can order one here