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Pomp Under Difficult Circumstances
Submitted by: Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice


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Pomp Under Difficult Circumstances

“Her dream to complete her master’s degree seemed out of reach, until Myra’s Samaritan hospice social worker contacted a caring Rowan University department chair. The result:  a unique bedside graduation just three days before she died.

Even the most masterful writers sometimes need help in creating a more satisfying final chapter. Upon her retirement as a successful marketing communications entrepreneur, Myra Schiffmann Medeiros fearlessly set out to achieve the one dream that had eluded her years earlier:  to earn her master’s degree in creative writing. She was accepted into the Rowan University Master of Arts in Writing program – one of few such programs in the nation.

In December 2013, as she was about to begin her final semester, medical tests revealed advanced lung cancer and Myra began receiving hospice care from southern New Jersey’s Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice.  Anna Giacoponello, a Samaritan social work intern, learned of Myra’s deep regret that she would not graduate with her class.

Anna contacted Myra’s Rowan professors who worked with her family to plan a bedside graduation. On Saturday, March 8, 2014, Department Chair Dr. Sanford Tweedie  and Professors Ronald Block and Lisa Jahn-Clough, gowned in full academic regalia, gathered in Myra’s bedroom along with several  classmates and family members. A recorded rendition of “Pomp and  Circumstance”

marked the solemnity of the occasion.  Myra rallied and said, “Oh, fabulous,” as she thankfully accepted her framed diploma  – just three days before she died at age 61.

Husband Ray Medeiros believes she was holding on for the poignant 20-minute ceremony. Dr. Tweedie said, “I found Anna incredibly professional, caring, and concerned with the welfare of the family. The fact that she reached out to me with this idea was great. The most satisfying thing for us was that we were able to give Myra her real degree – not a posthumous one.

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