On Sept. 8, Guilford received news that one of its own had passed away. Assistant Professor of Justice and Policy Studies Laurin Flynn had worked at Guilford for six years before leaving early in the semester. Flynn was diagnosed last year with breast cancer and decided it was time to focus on her health. The Department of Justice and Policy Studies held a reception when she left to celebrate her contribution to the Guilford community.
“The reception was to say thank you,” said Associate Professor of Justice and Policy Studies Jerry Joplin. “When we said goodbye, we didn’t think it was going to be forever.”
Flynn had been ill for quite some time, but it never stopped her from taking care of her top priority: her students.
“She really cared about her students,” said Assistant Professor of Justice and Policy Studies Barbara Lawrence. “Laurin was here for the students.”
“She brought in a lot of stories to her teaching,” said Associate Professor of Justice and Policy Studies Sherry Giles.
Flynn was also a student advocate on the Guilford Judiciary Board. In addition to her activity at Guilford, Flynn worked with a national community-organizing group called Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). IAF builds organizations that help create social changes. Flynn helped IAF in Los Angeles to get rid of liquor stores in a neighborhood.
As for her department, Flynn focused mostly on touchy subjects that many would find difficult to talk about.
“Her passion was victimology, the study of victims and victims’ rights,” said Assistant Professor of Justice and Policy Studies Will Pizio.
Such themes came into focus in her family violence class — a class with a tough subject that Flynn still managed to make enjoyable for students.
“She turned … dark subject matter, painful subject matter … and made it fun,” said Lawrence.
“She would blend humor and challenge with expressing information,” said Pizio. “So she would tell you information and then challenge your intellect, views, and your ethics.”
Flynn had a strong personality in the classroom as well as when she was among her colleagues.
“If she came in and she was pissed at you, she would tell you,” said Pizio. “Then she would tell you why and you would talk it out … and I respected that over everything else.”
“She was very honest and real and up front … she said all of the things that we were thinking that needed to be said,” Lawrence said.
Flynn was a well-respected professor among her department and her loss was truly a bitter pill to swallow.
“She brought something you really can’t describe,” Laurence said.
First-year Nora Cooke had Flynn for her First Year Experience class.
“She was amazing,” said Cooke. “You can just tell that she had done so much after spending a few hours with her.”
Although her colleagues could see her illness slowly taking over, they were inspired by her determination and perseverance.
“She knew it was the disease that was going to take its course with her,” said Joplin. “But she was not going to let it prevent her from doing her job.”
However, when Flynn realized how serious the illness had become, she headed home to California to be with her family, where she passed away.
“Outside of class, she would come up and talk to us,” said Cooke. “I wish I had been able to get to know her better.”
Lawrence especially felt that Flynn had left a mark on her life.
“She taught me a lot of good lessons as a woman, as a professional in an environment that breeds and fosters adversity,” said Lawrence.
A memorial service was held on Sept. 21 in the Moon Room in Dana Auditorium. Students and faculty members who were still mourning Flynn’s passing were able to say a final goodbye to the woman who meant so much to everyone she encountered.
“We just miss her,” said Giles. “It’s still very sad.”