Powell Scholars students show caring nature after professors lose beloved pet
Two professors recently grieving the loss of a cherished pet were buoyed when caring individuals stepped up to support them.
The kindness came from University of the Pacific students.
Powell Scholars students showered English Professor Courtney Lehmann and data science Professor Jim Hetrick with notes, gifts and even original artwork after the death of their dog Lulu.
“I had no idea I would get a three-page, hand-written letter—empathy the old-fashioned way,” said Lehmann, who directs the Powell Scholars program. “We received a care package and then more notes and gifts started coming. It was amazing.”
Aneri Mehta ’24, a first-year pre-dental student who will minor in art, contributed a drawing of Lulu from her home in Arizona.
“I have not even met Aneri personally, and she still sent this beautiful piece of art. It is so meaningful,” Lehmann said.
Over the years, Lehmann’s students have gotten to know Lulu. “I had one student who used to come over when she was stressed, just to relax alongside Lulu and pet her,” Lehmann said.
There is a back story of how Lulu, at 8 weeks old, entered the lives of Lehmann and Hetrick.
“We had just experienced a terrifying home invasion (in 2012) at 4 a.m. When the police showed up, they advised us to: 1) move to a different zip code; 2) buy a shotgun; or 3) get a German shepherd,” Lehmann said. “Given that I was teaching PACS 3 (Ethics), I thought I’d pose these choices to students as a moral dilemma.
“Although the students reacted initially by supporting the ‘move’ option, in the end, the entire class reached a consensus: get a German shepherd. On the final day of class, I indicated that I had a guest presenter, who was eager to affirm their arguments. Of course it was my puppy Lulu.”
These Powell Scholars—40 students strong for the 2020–21 school year—made a lasting impact on Lehmann and Hetrick.
“We are just so touched by their thoughtfulness and caring,” Lehmann said. “The scholars are such a close-knit group. We are so grateful.”