PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Pace University’s College of Health Professions (CHP) launched a speaker series in November with a film screening and panel discussion on best practices to foster hope, healing and resilience over time in the face of trauma and loss.
The event was hosted in partnership with Project Rebirth, an organization located at Pace that helps people recover from grief and trauma and develop resilience.
Project Rebirth has produced 11 films chronicling people coping with grief and traumatic loss, including Peabody Award-winning “Rebirth.” The short film, “Rebirth: Tanya,” premiered during the event prior to the panel discussion. The film told the story of Tanya Villanueva Tepper, a woman who lost her fiancé Sergio Villanueva on 9/11 and has since started a new life.
Panelists included Tepper along with Renee McLeod-Sordjan, four time alumna of Pace University and clinical assistant professor at Lienhard School of Nursing; Jane Bear-Lehman, professor and chair, department of health studies, College of Health Professions, Pace University and Aaron Leonard, executive director, Project Rebirth.
“Resilience is like a muscle; you build it with each challenge, with each circumstance and you get to know your own resourcefulness,” Tepper said during the discussion. “My motorcycle was my biggest healing tool next to peer support. Knowing that I could get out in nature and just feel a little bit of life again was very healing to me.”
Tepper also talked about letting go of the expectations of a future with Sergio, but not letting go of him.
Feldman and McLeod-Sordjan described a trip they took to Ghana where they met people struggling to survive who nevertheless had hope and resilience. McLeod-Sordjan discussed applying the lessons she learned in Ghana in the classroom.
“What it taught me as an educator is not to assume, not to take anything for granted, and to find out what people’s supports are, and how we can build a community. Because one thing we know about resilience is that we can’t do it alone. What we teach our students is you cannot help someone through their darkest days alone. That takes a team.”
For a clip of the Rebirth film about Tepper, visit her website at www.tanyavillanuevatepper.com .