Remembering Hanifah Muhammad

Special project highlights admiration of teacher

Current and former students, along with staff, at the Center for Career Services, found a unique way to spread a message of appreciation and support following the death of a beloved teacher.

Late last year, veteran EMS teacher Hanifah Muhammad passed away. The news came as a shock to her students and those who knew her all around campus.

Center for Career Services Director Dahlia Jackson had hoped to plan an in-person campus memorial service. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a committee working to plan the event considered a virtual one before opting to create a video.

"Many staff members worked behind the scenes to make the remembrance happen," Ms. Jackson said.

TV/Video Production and Sound Production students worked with EMS students to allow the latter to share their thoughts about their teacher through a special video project. Gathering in twos or threes in the on-campus studio, students talked about their former teacher and what she meant to them. The video also includes a moment when Social Worker and friend Eileen Yip shares an album that staff and students put together and later shared with Ms. Muhammad’s family. The video ends with Ms. Jackson reciting the poem “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou.

The result of the students’ hard work is a video titled “Hanifah Muhammad: A Remembrance.”

“We wanted to make it a safe environment where students could mourn and find peace,” Sound Production teacher Sean Harty said. “We rallied our team to be sensitive and caring. I think our students did an important job in understanding this.”

It is not always easy for teens to share their personal feelings, especially in front of other teens they may not know.

Mr. Harty gave students Desmond Washington and Gabriel Cedeno credit for the way they treated the mourning students with respect and sensitivity.

Once students felt comfortable in the studio environment and understood how the recording would go, they were able to relax and feel supported. The studio was closed to other students. Only those who were speaking, and limited television and sound production students, were allowed in the studio while material during recording.

“We had to do it in one take, we didn’t want it to feel scripted. It needed to be real,” Mr. Harty said.The result is a heartfelt sharing of the impact Ms. Muhammad had on the lives of her students.

“I just wanted to let her know how much I miss her and how much she meant to me,” shared one student.

“She was a great person, a great mentor and friend. I will definitely miss her forever,” recalled another student.

“We’ll make her proud,” said another.

“Her safe environment truly showed us how much she cared for us and how much she loved us,” another students said.

“She always said step out of your comfort zone. That’s what I did,” added another student.

“I was honored we could bring some comfort and honor to Hanifah’s passing, students, staff and family,” Television Production teacher Mike May said. “Rarely do we have to do something with such a sensitive topic. It’s a lot to ask for the students to be involved in such a project.”

Television Production students Harley Fernandes, Brandon Perez, Christian Fernandez and Anthony Berrio were actively involved.

Mr. May is especially proud of how his students balanced their professional work of recording and editing the video together with the layer of sensitivity they showed.

“You want to give respect to the sensitive nature of what we are doing,” he said. “It’s a good lesson to demonstrate to them how emotion plays a heavy factor in everything we do.”

Visit the Career Services YouTube channel here to view the memorial.