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Day in The Life of A Remarkable Woman
by Laketa Lewis, Contributing Writer
It is 4:45 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and LaSonya Stovall, director of residential services at Savannah State University, is already up out of bed ready to start the day. Before she picks up her cell phone to check for missed calls and messages, wash her face, or brush her teeth, Stovall is down on her knees praying. After prayer, she goes to her closet to find the perfect outfit to tackle the day.
Today she chooses a green olive dress, a leopard print belt, a soft pink pearl necklace with matching bracelets on each wrist and four small diamond studs for the four piercings in her ear. A pink and green Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority purse that she received as a gift at a conference.
Stovall lives in Sand Fly, a five to 10 minute drive to SSU. She arrives at her office in Adams Hall by 7:30 a.m. and a pink and green sign on her office door reminds her of her breast cancer. “Cancer touched my breast,” the sign reads, “so I kicked its butt.” She’s been in remission for five years.
More inspiration lies in the “Word for the Day” and “Our Daily Bread,” books she always has around her office. They kept her going during her fight with cancer. “I say it’s gone. It’s never coming back, or I will beat it again,” says Stovall.
Stovall has a master’s degree in Public Administration, with distinction, in 1999 from SSU. At SSU, she’s a member of The Committee of 1000 and the Walls of Scholars; she’s a Gold Tiger, a Freshman Year Experience teacher and a chairperson for the homecoming committee.
Stovall’s office hops with the frogs, turtles, inspirational quotes, blue and orange spirit items and piles of paper work. The frogs symbolize the love Stovall has for her sorority AKA. The turtles are from her business sorority, Iota Phi Lambda. At home, orange and blue butterfly magnets decorate her refrigerator; a pointing hand signals No. 1 and how much she loves SSU.
“In my spare time, I attend all of the sporting events. I go to the baseball games, football games, basically all the sports games,” she says.
People who don’t know Stovall might think that after housing assignments are finished at the beginning of the year, she can relax. The reality is that she spends her days dealing with students who want to change rooms rooms, bug problems, broken furniture and fines for misbehavior.
This day, Stovall negotiates with Waffle House to persuade them to give students free waffles or discounts on meals. She’s also trying to talk the contractor who installed the new washers and dryers in the University Commons and Village into giving out free washing powder each month. She started a program to let parents buy care packages for their children.
“I try to do this all day to benefit our students in any way possible,” says Stovall.
The clock reaches 1 and Stovall heads to lunch. It is fried chicken Wednesday in the café, one of Stovall’s favorite days to eat on campus.
Leaving Adams Hall and walking through the circle, she all she sees, many of whom know her by name. She speaks to everyone.
In the cafeteria, Stovall greets the woman behind the serving line with “Hey, Ms. Jackie.” The woman loads Stovall’s tray with all of Stovall’s favorites. Today it’s two fried chicken breasts, mac and cheese and black-eyed peas.
When Stovall needs rice, she heads to Tiger Wok. “What are black eye peas without rice?” she asks.
Before Stovall gets her rice, she spies Vice President of Student Advancement Philip Adams. Standing with her lunch in her hands, she tells Adams about a student she got to know five years ago when she was a residence director.
The student has a mental illness, but he’s in school, she says. He has a $397 balance on his account and needs to clear that debt in order to stay in school.
“Everyday,” she adds, “The student comes to me and asks, ‘Has someone paid my bill yet?’ I say, ‘Not yet, but we will get it taken care of.’”
Adams nods with understanding and tells Stovall to send him the information, he will take care of it.
Solving money problems is not part of her job, but Stovall can’t help helping.
At 1:30, back in her office, Stovall finally eats lunch. She will spend the rest of her day with more problems and deals.
About 4:45 p.m., Monica Murchison-Battey drops in. She’s 40 and a non-traditional student who graduated in 2004. “She kept me out of trouble and gave me advice,” Murchison-Battey says. “She was just Stovall. She was trustworthy and dependable.”
At 5 p.m., Stovall changes into her workout gear and goes walking on campus with two friends, also on the SSU staff. The trio usually does four miles in an hour and 20 minutes. Stovall has lost over 80 pounds walking.
At 7:15 p.m., it’s time to teach Freshman Year Experience. Today, she gives the class a tour of the campus, sharing her amazement at all the new dorms on campus.
At 8:45 p.m., Stovall packs her things into her tan Ford Expedition – its front bumper with a pink and green AKA sticker — and drives home.
Tonight is a no-dinner night. She had a big lunch so will snack on fresh fruit. After a shower, Stovall ends the day as it began, with a prayer. At 9:30 p.m., the lights go black. This remarkable woman has conquered another day.
A poem, given to her by a student, comes to mind to describe this student advocate. “You Are A Remarkable Woman,” by Susan Polis Schutz says: “You are a remarkable woman who accomplishes so much as a giving woman in a selfish world…. You are a remarkable woman and you are loved by so many people whose lives you have touched including mine.”