Car Crash Claims Life of Esperanza Alvarez-Muniz, Assistant Dean of Women
Funeral services for Esperanza Alvarez-Muñiz, who was killed last Friday in a car crash, will be held this Sabbath, Oct. 22, at Pioneer Memorial Church. The funeral service will begin at 6 p.m. in the main sanctuary. A visitation will precede the service, starting at 5 p.m., in the PMC foyer. Allred Funeral Home in Berrien Springs is handling arrangements. The service will be streamed live at mms://livestream.andrews.edu/Esperanza starting at 6 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting contributions be made to a memorial fund in honor of Esperanza. Contributions can be made to Andrews University and sent to the attention of the Office of Development, Berrien Springs, MI, 49104-0660. Put "Esperanza Alvarez-Muñiz" in the memo line.
Andrews University is mourning the loss of Esperanza Alvarez-Muñiz, assistant dean of women for Lamson Hall and a beloved mentor, friend and colleague to those who knew her.
On Friday, Oct. 14 around 4:30 p.m., Esperanza was driving with her mother, Lidia Duran, to go pick grapes in the countryside. According to the police report, Esperanza was driving east when she failed to yield at the intersection of Dean’s Hill Road and M-140 in Berrien Center. A vehicle traveling south struck on the driver’s side of Esperanza’s car.
Esperanza died at the scene. She was 41-years-old. Her mother, Lidia, received non-life threatening injuries and was taken to a local hospital. The other driver, a 49-year-old Berrien Center resident, was not injured.
Esperanza’s husband, Paul, was in Maryland at the time of the accident. After he and Esperanza’s family were notified, the University immediately released the information to the campus community. Moments after the announcement was sent, Campus Ministry chaplains shared the sad news with the hundreds of students attending Fusion, a campus worship service. Within seconds, dozens of online tributes to Esperanza and messages of comfort and support to Paul and her family were posted to an online message board for Esperanza and flooded Facebook newsfeeds of those in the Andrews community.
Her Time at Andrews University
While a student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Esperanza worked as a student dean at Lamson Hall. In 2007, she graduated with her Master of Divinity but there were no positions available locally, so she went to teach in New York City. In 2008, Esperanza married Paul, whom she met while they were both students in the Seminary. That same year, Esperanza received an invitation to return to Lamson Hall as assistant dean of women.
Jennifer Burrill, dean of women at Lamson Hall, describes Dean Muñiz, or “Espi” as she was affectionately called, as “A genuine, compassionate, resilient, strong and courageous woman of God. Her faith was palpable.”
Esperanza often went out of her way to do those little things to show she cared. A tribute posted by a Lamson Hall resident says, “I didn't interact with Dean Muñiz on a regular basis, but she was someone who you could tell loved God very much, and loved taking care of His girls here in Lamson. Just last evening she was walking around [the] third floor writing messages on dry-erase boards hanging on some of the doors. I remember thinking, ‘She must care for us.’”
Grief Support and Pastoral Counseling
Grief support and pastoral counseling will be available in the Living Learning Center and Head Housekeeper's office in Lamson Hall from 7-9 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Oct. 15-17. All students, staff and faculty are encouraged to utilize these services if needed.
Additional support services are available 24 hours a day with counselors and campus chaplains. If you need to talk to someone, contact the Lamson Hall desk (471- 3446) and ask for the dean on duty. The dean will connect you with the counseling/pastoral staff on duty.
A memorial has been set-up in the hallway leading from the main Lamson Hall lobby. Strips of paper are available to write a message on and create a paper memory chain. The chain is draped on a wooden cross sitting outside of Dean Muñiz’s office. It will be given to her husband Paul as a keepsake.