By Greg Hince
June 1, 2012. Monica Pombo, faculty member of the Communication Department at Appalachian State University, passed away Wednesday after a long battle with cancer.
Pombo, a professor who specialized in Electronic Media Broadcasting, taught in the Communication Department at Appalachian since 2003, when she started as an Assistant Professor focusing on Mass Communication.
Pombo was originally from Brazil, and often relayed stories of her past experiences to her students. She was famous for using her catchphrases “work with me people” and “you got it.”
“I always called her Brazil’s greatest ambassador,” Jean DeHart, Professor of Communication Studies said. “She was always one of my best friends at the university, and was so proud of where she came from, and always just wanted to teach and help whoever she could.”
DeHart said that she especially enjoyed when Pombo would bring her soaps, baked goods and foods from Brazil, simply because she enjoyed giving gifts to others.
“She really was just so nice and open to everyone,” DeHart said. “I think that shows in all the people that were touched by her work and friendship.”
Pombo received her bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State University and her master’s degree and Ph.D from Ohio University. Six years after coming to Appalachian, Pombo received tenure and served as Assistant Chair of the Communication Department from 2009-2011.
“She was valued as a teacher, but also as a mentor to our faculty,” Janice Pope, Chair of the Department of Communication said. “She was really just a brave person, and throughout her cancer she never complained, and always was as brave as anybody could be.”
Pombo received the Southern State Communication Association’s Outstanding Young Educator Award in 2008. She was briefly the President of The Carolinas Communication Association and was also elected the President of the Communication Department in 2011.
“We are all going to miss her being in the building every day,” Roger Bodo, Professor of Advertising said. “She was liked by everyone she came in contact with.”
Pombo will be remembered by co-workers for her willingness to help anyone, regardless of circumstance.
“I really wish I could have gotten to know her better, because I’ve only worked here for roughly a year,” Dean Mundy, Professor of Public Relations said. “But, she was such a helping and open person that she left an impression on every person she worked with.”
Pombo is survived by her son, Alex, and partner, Heather Thorp.
Her partner is not entitled to widow benefits under current North Carolina law. Benefits for same-sex couples and their children are largely nonexistent, and have been even before the state’s recent vote on Amendment One.
Pombo will be greatly missed by colleagues and students alike.
“She had an impact on every student she taught and every person she worked with,” DeHart said. “Whether it’s the Acai berry, or the soaps, or the Brazilian singers she introduced me to, I have so many simple little ways to continue her legacy every day.”
UPDATE: A service for Pombo will be held at The United Church of Christ Saturday June 9 at 3 p.m.
DIRECTIONS: The church is located at 8233 Highway 421 North, Vilas. From downtown Boone, take King Street (Hwy 421) north for seven miles. The church is on the left.