Students did not cry at the memorial service honoring the life of Dr. Henry Acejo. This was not because they did not mourn his passing or feel the loss of his presence, but because the memories they drew on and shared in testimonials were fond ones, bringing smiles and laughter.
Dr. Acejo, a lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Asian / Middle Eastern Languages, founded the Pilipino language program at San Diego State in 2004. He was born and educated in the Philippines. He also lectured at Southwestern Community College, and Mid-City Community College. The beloved professor was stabbed to death in his Tijuana apartment at approximately 11 p.m. on Dec. 18.
“Acejo’s death is an immense loss to the department, to the College of Arts and Letters and to the university,” wrote Dr. Ghada Osman, the director of the Arabic Program and a friend of Dr. Acejo, in a statement for the memorial program and the SDSUniverse website.
“He was a very popular instructor whose creativity, knowledge, hard work and dedication to his students as a professional were deeply striking. His upbeat personality, ubiquitous smile, sense of humor and care for others as a person were extraordinary.”
In the service organized by A.B. Samahan, the Pilipino-American student organization at SDSU, the testimonials portion reflected this sentiment most, filled with laughter at certain stories about Dr. Acejo’s life in San Diego and in the Philippines.
“He was always good at spreading the word for us … he connected with students well,” Salvador Flor, a former advisor for A.B. Samahan, said. “He could have just gone to class, done his thing, and split … he didn’t have to do the other things he did.”
The approximately 25 students who attended shared snippets of classroom memories and jokes, emphasizing the positive relationship Dr. Acejo maintained with his students. One even recounted that when he received a D in Dr. Acejo’s class, it humbled and inspired him to try harder when he repeated it later.
“The sadness of it all is that he left us too early,” Flor said.