In Memory of Rulon Andrew
by Kim Persky | published Oct. 3rd, 2014
Campus wide, hearts sunk a little bit deeper on September 17, when the notification was sent out from RIT Message Center that “RIT mourns the loss of Rulon Andrew.” Another student to pass before his time, Rulon was thirty years old and a student in the RIT Saunders College of Business’ Management Information Systems program. He was expected to graduate in May 2015 and had previously graduated NTID with an A.S. in Business in 2012.
As his former professor, Mark Pfuntner, said of Rulon, “He was a leader, not by his words, but by his actions.” Community-centered, Rulon served on the Student Advisory Board of the RIT Leadership Institute. Molly McGowan, Director for the Center for Leadership and Community Service Center, was a close associate of Pfuntner.
In her reflection to be shared at his memorial service, she cited Andrew as a quiet, but action-oriented leader. He proved that actions truly do speak louder than words, and was an integral part of the organization. In his time on the board, he planned retreats, established projects to serve the community, and worked to improve RIT student organizations.
As a late-deafened adult, Rulon moved from Utah to Rochester in order to continue his education at NTID, given the excellent support services for deaf and hard of hearing students. His professors characterized him as a true gentleman- polite, soft-spoken and always willing to help. One of his main focuses in business classes was how to provide extraordinary customer service.
After Rulon’s passing, former professor and tutor,
Atkins compared his disposition to Fred, the mailman, in Mark Sandborn's book, "The Fred Factor." The motivational speaker writes about providing exceptional customer service, without expectation of reward or public recognition, parallel to Rulon’s work ethic.
Pfunter and Atkins attested that Rulon was not an attention-seeker, was very private and kept a small group of friends. He truly valued quality over quantity in his relationships. The character of his friends verifies the adage that one can judge a man by the company he keeps.
Two people that knew Rulon on a much more personal level were his good friend, Bakar Ali, former NTID Cross-Registered Senator, and girlfriend, Nicole Shay. Unable to attend the memorial service held on September 23, Bakar recorded a video of his sentiments to be shared. The two developed a strong bond while meeting at Orientation their first year and living on the same floor. Ali recalls that Andrew was always extremely trustworthy and the first person to offer help when he was in need. Chronically struggling with health, he never complained and maintained a positive outlook on life.
In addition to the serious, calm, and quiet personality of Rulon, Nicole was able to enjoy the funny side that not everyone else knew. He had a wonderful sense of humor. A cinema fanatic, Rulon often quoted his favorite lines from movies. He loved the comedy, Anger Management. In one famous scene, Dr. Buddy Rydell, played by Jack Nicholson, tells his hysterical patient to say “Goosfraba,” something Eskimo mothers would say to calm their children. If Nicole were having a bad day, he would tell her to say “Goosfraba,” using his humor and calm demeanor to lighten her mood.
As the community mourns this loss, we must remember and admire Rulon’s values and humble demeanor that led to his success and happiness.