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From Grief to Hope

“He was a joy,” Pam Somers says of her youngest son, the late Steven Grant Somers. The Winston-Salem native loved NC State, running, the local craft beer scene, and his many friends and family members. After earning two degrees from NC State, a bachelor’s in statistics and a master’s in analytics, Steven launched a successful career at SAS. Then one day at work in May 2018, without warning, Steven suffered a grand mal seizure. At the hospital he was given a devastating diagnosis: glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive and inoperable brain tumor. He passed away days later at the age of 32. 

Steven’s untimely death left a hole in the hearts of his mother, Pam, and his brothers, David and Adam. As a young, single, active man, Steven hadn’t thought to complete a will before he died. His mother and brothers were therefore left to answer the questions, “What would Steven want us to do with his estate? Can we honor Steven’s life by creating a legacy for him?”

“Can we honor Steven’s life by creating a legacy for him?”

Pam Somers

To answer their questions, Steven’s family considered Steven’s passions, strengths, and struggles. Steven’s impressive degrees, his career at SAS, and his vibrant social life concealed his own relationship with grief. During his first year at NC State, Steven’s close friend from his hometown of Winston-Salem died suddenly shortly before he was to join Steven at NC State. Steven was devastated, suffered from depression, and withdrew from school for a semester to seek help. When he returned to campus, Steven found a faculty mentor within the department of statistics who nurtured Steven’s abilities and interests and helped him get back on track academically. Yet in his junior year, grief struck Steven once again when his father was fatally injured in a car accident. With support Steven persevered, completing his bachelor’s and continuing on to his master’s and then to SAS.

Having considered Steven’s entire life journey, his family reached out to the Counseling Center within the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. Pam and David met the center’s director, Monica Osburn. Monica shared that the Counseling Center supports more than 6,000 students per year; of the students who seek help, more than one in ten cite grief as their primary concern. While the center offers programs for grieving students and grief training opportunities for staff, increased private support would enable Monica and her team to grow and sustain their grief initiatives. Pam and her sons continued to reflect on Steven’s life–his pride at being a member of the Wolfpack, his struggles with grief, his pursuit of student success, and his caring and thoughtful nature. They concluded that the most fitting way to honor Steven would be the creation of the Steven Grant Somers Endowment. The endowment will produce an annual spending budget that the Counseling Center will use to support students on their own journeys with grief. “The generosity of the Somers family will make such a huge impact on NC State students,” Monica Osburn explains. “I cannot thank Pam and her family enough for giving us the resources to not only continue to provide grief counseling for our staff but also to provide comfort to grieving students.” 

“The generosity of the Somers family will make such a huge impact on NC State students.”

Monica Osburn

Pam and her sons have taken their sorrow and transformed it into something that will benefit generations of NC State students. “In this life, I will never understand why this happened,” Pam says of Steven’s passing. “But Steven survived his grief, and his endowment will help future NC State students do the same. Long after I’m gone, there will be something that honors him.”