Angela De Silva G’08 was one of the iSchool’s Preparing Librarians for Urban Schools (PLUS) program students, who started in July 2006 and graduated in May 2008. Angela passed away on Saturday, March 7, 2009, after a long battle with cancer. She came to the first residency after being informed that her cancer was no longer in remission, so she completed the entire school media program while receiving chemotherapy and other treatments. Those who knew her describe her as a graceful, strong, thoughtful, persistent, an amazing woman. One reason she continued with the program was to show her daughter that it could be done. Angela was a real role model.
Angela Verna De Silva (Ann) was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies. She was the first child of Rita Arnold and Hubert Peterkin.
In 1975, she moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. Her first job was at Duane Reade, where she met her future husband, Lionel De Silva. In 1981, they entered into holy matrimony. One child was born to this union, Deanna Emily De Silva. Angela’s passions were reading, writing, and gardening. She was a great artist, and had a great appreciation for music.
In 1994, Angela earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education. In 1999, she received her first master’s degree in education; both of these degrees were earned at Brooklyn College. In May 2008, she received her second Master of Science from Syracuse University in Library and Information Science: Specialization in School Media. She worked for the Department of Education for 19 years, 14 years of which were as a fourth grade teacher and librarian at P.S 219 Kennedy King Elementary School. She also served as a Eucharistic Minister for many years at the Church of the Nativity in Brooklyn.
She is survived by her loving and devoted husband; Lionel of 28 years, her mother Rita, and her daughter Deanna. She also leaves behind her sister Beverly; brother Sean; sisters-in-law Annette and Louise; mother-in-law Olive; brothers-in-laws Sam and Victor; and nephews Allen, Alex, Omar, Jamel, and Michael; and niece Marendi. She also leaves behind other siblings, nieces, and nephews and a host of family and friends, including many PLUS alumni and school media faculty from Syracuse University.
Angela De Silva Inspirational Achievement Award
Angela De Silva discovered that she was sick with cancer just as she began the M.S. in Library and Information Science School Media Program. She decided to fight through the disease to finish her degree to become a role model for her daughter. She graduated in May 2008, achieving one of her last goals in life.
Please help Angela’s success live on through an award that would be given to an iSchool student who shares her same determination and resilience. Support the establishment of the Angela DeSilva Inspirational Achievement Award.
Contributions can be sent to:
Angela De Silva Inspirational Achievement Award
c/o Syracuse University School of Information Studies
343D Hinds Hall
Syracuse, New York 13244-4100
In Your Words:
Angela was my student in two courses as she pursued her master’s degree at the iSchool. She was among the strongest women I have ever met. Even as Angela struggled through each difficult medical treatment, which drained her of so much strength and energy, she worked diligently to complete each aspect of her graduate work.
Throughout it all, she maintained the grace, poise, and dignity to rise above each challenge moving steadfastly toward her goal. I was so proud of Angela on graduation day last year. And we all felt close to her as we celebrated the accomplishments of all the PLUS students during our post convocation party where we met her loving family. Angela’s wonderful, warm, and determined spirit will continue to be celebrated through the Angela De Silva Inspiration Achievement Award to be given in her honor.
Thank you for being an inspiration, Angela.
Angela was a truly remarkable woman. She was totally dedicated to her chosen profession and persisted in the face of almost insurmountable challenges. There were so many times when we feared she would not finish, but she never doubted it.
We all felt such tremendous pride when she climbed those steps and marched across the stage to receive her degree at graduation last May. I’ll never forget the beaming smile on her face when I greeted her on stage. She continues to serve as an inspiration to everyone at the iSchool, but especially to students, particularly her beloved fellow PLUS students.
I am so thrilled that we will be able to honor her and keep her spirit alive through this award.
The one memory that stands out most in my mind about Angela is her calling me when I posted my phone number on WebCT for one of our classes. It was early on in the program and she was a bit embarrassed to call me for help. I told her that I wouldn’t have posted my # if I didn’t want anyone to call. She was so sweet, polite and appreciative.
I wished that I could be at her side to help her more because those early days were certainly stressful for us all. I was so happy that she called and I was at least able to provide what little help she needed that evening. I tell my students every day that if they can learn just one new thing on the computer every day, that’s 365 new things in one year. Hence, we never stop learning. I wouldn’t be tech-savvy if others hadn’t helped me and that’s what we’re all suppose to do in life. Help each other get by.
Such a classy lady. My sympathies to her loving family.
I can hear Angela’s response to the news that there is an award in her honor, “Oh, no, Julie! No, no, not me!”
Yes, you Angela: for all the Wednesdays when we worked together at Canarsie High School, and I went home to post on WebCT, or make dinner and you went to chemo (then you made a brief stop to visit your Mom, then posted WebCT, then made dinner).
Yes, you Angela: for sharing your condition with us without self pity or resentment.
Yes, you Angela, for giving me the great honor of working with you last summer. We sat at your dining room table and reviewed your lesson planning books looking for ideas for Curiousity Creek. There were photos of a younger you, bending over a desk to help a child complete their task. You remembered the lesson and the child. No surprise!
My children, who met Angela and her family at Graduation, join Deb and I as we remember dear Angela — yes, Angela, you!
Angela’s courage and commitment — to her elementary students, our profession of school librarianship, and our Syracuse PLUS community — were like beacons to me, shining a light of grace and dedication on all of us who came into contact with her. She inspired us all to do our best. She helped us understand that the true richness of living comes from the way we connect to and support each other.
Our school library community will miss Angela greatly, but her spirit resides within each of us. I know we will carry that spirit forward into our work and personal lives. Thank you to Lionel and Deanna for sharing Angela with us. Our thoughts are with you.
Angela was an amazing woman to all that knew her but to me she was my friend and family from the Syracuse Plus Program.
We met our first semester of the A+ program. Her smile and laughter would light up the room. How hard she worked to complete her degree is a lesson that we all could learn from. She, at times, would say that doing this program was even more difficult than having the cancer. I believe that it was the work that helped her during this difficult time. She loved being a part of the Plus program.
We were a small cohort the first semester and we became a family depending on each other to pull us threw. She always said how much I helped her. Yet, it was she that gave me the support and strength that I needed to complete the program.
I will miss her dearly, her voice, her laughter and her smile that shined so brightly. She is shining above us now and will forever be missed by all that were blessed to know her.
Angela may be gone physically but her spirit lives on thanks to Syracuse and this wonderful scholarship. My love to Lionel and Deanna.
During our coursework, I remember feeling overwhelmed and frustrated most of the time. I was going through some stressful personal problems at the same time. When this happens I tend to get that “why me?” attitude. Then I met and spoke with Angela…
She was ALWAYS kind, thoughtful, and hopeful. She gave me the perspective I truly needed. Though her appearance into my life was short, she taught me a great great lesson. We must appreciate and face every moment with grace and gratitude.
I will always remember you Angela. Thank you for being you. Your life and presence was a gift I will treasure.
I often think back on the wealth of knowledge we acquired during our two years as graduate students of Syracuse. However, one thing stands out above everything else. The examples you showed me of dignity, professionalism, commitment, and fortitude to achieve your goals was the most valuable learning experience of all. Thanks for your encouragement and always kind words.
And God bless you Deanna and Lionel.
There are people in life who are your teachers and you won’t necessarily know it until the lesson sinks under your skin and into your heart. Angela was a teacher in a world classroom. She lived and taught by example. Angela taught through her perseverance, strength, and indomitable spirit. The spirit that shone was both in a zest for life and also her strong faith.
I’m sharing some emails from Angela in the months after Convocation in May 2008. She usually closed her messages with words of affection, which she had for everyone. They exemplify her warmth, concern for others, and determination.
“Getting together for graduation was wonderful. I will not forget the great feelings I experienced with everyone. Lionel and Deanna were so proud of me! I hope that the experience made an impact on Deanna who did not graduate this June, but has promised to do so next June. I am waiting for that!
Lots of love,
July 24 while working on her practicum, and very ill, still keeping up with her assignments.
“My journals will be sent in on time, and I just have the follow the schedule properly, and all will be well, I hope… I will push to the end.”
“Please find attachment for Journal #4. Thank you. Have a great week!”
“Attached, please find Journal # 5. I do hope that all is well with you.”
Later on Aug. 3, after finding out she had completed all her requirements for the practica:
“I can now use my strong moments to work on Marilyn’s class.”
“It is good to give back when you have been given.” She was talking about wanting to give back to her practica supervisor, being grateful for the help offered by the supervisor.
“All I do is dream of finishing all of my assignments and then getting my degree. I cannot wait to get it and put it into a beautiful frame. It will be another motivator for my daughter to finish college.”
“I did not jump ship! In fact I have had the roughest seven consecutive weeks…I have not turned by back on my classes. I have not taken anything for granted. I am dying to get my degree. .. I will continue to send in Lesson Plans and Activities as soon as I can set for a while. I will never turn my back on my responsibilities. My health has really gotten worse.
This email was typed
Lionel, Ann’s Husband”
Angela submitted the rest of her requirements over the next few days.
Sept. 3 Part of a message I sent Angela, her professors and advisors:
> It brings me great joy to notify you that Angela De Silva has been
> awarded her Master of Science in Library and Information Science from
> The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University!
“Today, I wish that I had the strength to scream out of my window and tell all who can hear what has happened.”
She also wrote:
“I still wish that I had done better!” (She finished with a 3.806 GPA)
My last correspondence from Angela was:
Nov. 24, 2008
“Take care and I will keep in touch with you whenever I can. God bless you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Lots of love,
She was always reaching out to others, reaching forward toward her own goals, all the while being gentle, kind, and determined. I feel so fortunate to have had even a few years knowing Angela.
Ann and I were friends going to Sunday School on Government House Road, in Tobago. I have not seen her since we were kids and I often wondered(everytime I looked at where she lived) where she was and what she was doing. We were peers – I just turned 60 .
I remembered her as a very pretty girl and I would expect that she grew to become an extremely beautiful woman. Ann touched people in a very positive way. It is the reason I remembered her after all these years.
I am extremely saddened to hear of her passing.My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all her family.
God Bless You All.
I have known Angela for approximately fifteen (15) years. I met her when I came to PS 219. She was someone you simply could not resist admiring. She was a kind, loving, and gentle LADY. Angela was always concerned about other people’s problems despite the fact that she was fighting the battle of her life. She loved people; she loved life; and never thought about giving up.
I loved her dearly as a sister, a friend, and mother. I truly miss hearing her voice. She would always asked, “How are you Mr. Jacobs, how is the family?”
It was simply a pleasure knowing this vibrant woman. You could never detect that she was experiencing such a difficult time. I miss her and have written poem as a tribute to this wonderful, spiritual woman.
Hello silver bird
You came into this world
And have spread your wings
You have traveled high
You have traveled low
You came into our lives
And splattered your love
And your care upon us all
Upon your bosoms, you
Now your work is done
You have gone home to rest
In God’s loving arms you now
Lay your head
I know you are looking down
At us with that gracious smile
Rest silver bird
For your work is done
You are finally home
You were a wonderful person inside and out. You will never be forgotten. You gave me courage and acceptance and i will always love you.