Memorial for Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui, Jan. 25
The Fairfield University Community mourns the loss of Dr. Gisela Gil-Egui, who died on Wednesday, December 30 at the age of 48 in a fatal highway accident in Miami, Florida.
Also killed in the accident were her husband, Jose Martin Labrador of Bridgeport, 52, Director of Education Technology at Housatonic Community College; her mother, Gisela Margarita Egui Hernandez, 71, of Venezuela and her brother, Miguel Gil, 47, of Copper City, Florida.
Gil-Egui and her husband had just arrived in Miami to visit with her siblings and mother. It was the first time in many years they were going to have the opportunity to be together.
A mass will be held on January 25th at 12:00 noon at the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola. At 1:00 p.m., a memorial service to celebrate the lives and legacy of Gisela Gil-Egui, her husband, Jose Martin Labrador and their family, will take place at the Quick Center, with a reception immediately following. There will also be an informal gathering beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Levee.
“Dr. Gil-Egui was a delightful friend, an enthusiastic and inspiring colleague, and an accomplished scholar,” wrote Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J. in a note to the University community. “As an Associate Professor of Communication at Fairfield University, she taught courses focusing on globalization of mass media and information, mass media and society and other subjects, she assisted her students on their thesis proposals and research, and was an avid and inspiring faculty collaborator in a number of other projects and committees.”
Gil-Egui, originally from Venezuela, studied at Universidad Central de Venezuela where she received her B.A. and Temple University where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D., before joining Fairfield University’s Department of Communication about 12 years ago.
Friend and colleague David Gudelunas, an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication remembered: “Gisela and I started talking 12 years ago when we were both hired in the Department of Communication and it was a 12 year conversation that I cherished so much because Gisela was so intelligent, insightful, funny, just and kind. These are qualities not typically all associated with one person, but in Gisela’s case it is the truth, and it was all a conversation delivered with that infectious smile of hers.”
Dr. Gil-Egui was committed to service and inspiring her students both in and out of the classroom, here and abroad. In addition to Communication courses, Gil-Egui also taught Latin American and Caribbean Studies and travelled to Nicaragua with students on numerous occasions.
She integrated service learning into her Mass Media and Society class where her students worked with nearby youth at the Black Rock branch of the Bridgeport Public Library. Dr. Gil-Egui’s friend and colleague Bryan Ripley Crandall, Director of Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield, said, “Gisela had a vision for partnering with the community, and most recently was initiating a project with Bassick High School in Bridgeport. She wanted her communication students to go beyond traditional academia and into service learning that was beneficial to them and the community.”
Melissa Quan, friend and Director of Service Learning and Associate Director of Fairfield’s Center for Faith and Public Life, said of Gil-Egui: “Gisela was the type of person that didn’t wait for you to ask for help or support. She was a step ahead always trying to support others and the work that she really believed in. She will be missed.”
One of Dr. Gil-Egui’s former students, Rachel Baroody, class of 2015 described a dedicated professor who connected with her students in a profound way. "There were many times when I would just go in and talk to her about whatever was on my mind. Whatever the topic was, she genuinely cared and that's what made her so special. Her teaching inspired me and encouraged me to be the best student and person I could be. She was a significant contributor to my amazing four years at Fairfield.”
“Gisela was an innovator and a crusader here at Fairfield,” Dr. Gudelunas continued. “She fought for what was right and she taught her students with the same passion and conviction she brought to her personal relationships. We will eventually hire to find another professor in my department, but we will never, ever, be able to replace Gisela.”