“She truly cared about us, not just as students but personally,” remembering Daria Close

Daria Close, assistant nursing professor, holds up the arm of the mannequin as they run through the motions of the adult code on Nov. 8, 2016.

Brendan Wynne

Daria Close, assistant nursing professor, holds up the arm of the mannequin as they run through the motions of the adult code on Nov. 8, 2016.

Her battle with breast cancer didn’t change Daria Close, assistant professor of nursing’s dedication to her students’ education and wellbeing.

“She really had a passion for teaching,” Taylor Butler, senior nursing student, said.

After 15 years of teaching for MSU Texas, Close passed away Monday, Feb. 23. Up until then, she was educating nursing students despite her diagnosis.

“I think [Close wanting nursing students to succeed is] evident since she taught all the way up to the end. It would’ve been totally understandable for her to take a year or semester off while battling cancer, but she kept teaching because she loved her students,” Madison Haskett, nursing senior, said.

As one of her many accomplishments, Close served as a 1st Lieutenant in US Air Force. In a Postmaster sent Feb. 25, President Suzanne Shipley listed just a few of her commitments to the MSU community.

Daria Close
Professor Daria Close with Jenny Womack, one of the students she mentored, in 2011. (Photo courtesy of Robin Lockhart)

“She served as a member of the Interdisciplinary Committee for the Gunn College of Health Sciences and Human Services, helping plan and participated in annual Mock Adult and NICU Mega code projects, an interdisciplinary venture involving many departments on campus,” Shipley said. “Daria was also active in numerous organizations including Nursing Faculty and Student Affairs Committees, Texas Nurses Association (TNA), Sigma Theta Tau – Xi Iota Chapter, Texas Association of College Teachers (TACT), and American Nurses Association (ANA).”

For many nursing students, Close was the professor they looked up to for advice and comfort.

“Professor Close was always the highlight of my week,” Ana Perez, nursing junior, said. “She would always ask how we were doing and let us rant to her. When I was at a low at the beginning of the semester, she let me talk about how I was struggling and gave me the right advice to gain some confidence back. She would always tell us jokes and always said how funny she was. Her laugh was contagious and I will miss that most about her. The class will never be the same without her, but I will always remember her.”

Not only passionate about teaching, Close also paid attention to students’ mental health needs and made it a point to check in on them.

“Sometimes she would even stop class and ask us how we were doing and what we were stressed about and try to help in any way she could,” Heskett said.

Professor Close with students
Professor Daria Close and students, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Robin Lockhart.)

Close was loved by students for being personable and caring wholly about her students even during her battle.

“She was such a great person and she cared for her students deeply. Even though she was having medical issues in her personal life, there was not one class where she wasn’t passionate about teaching us nursing,” Reese Yonder, nursing junior, said. “She was full of joy and compassion for others and you could tell that simply by how she spoke. I was shocked to hear about this news. I hope she is in a better place now, and I wish nothing but the best for the Close family.”

Being a first and last semester nursing professor, students said Close looked forward to seeing the growth in her students before they graduate.

“We were greatly blessed to know her…. She had a lot of empathy and always had our best interests at heart. She said she loved being a first-semester professor because later on, she sees us in [our] last semester.” Annie Kelley, nursing senior, said.

The funeral service for Daria Close will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 4 at Lunn’s Colonial Funeral Home.

Veterans Day
Daria Close and MSU Texas employees who served in the military, on Veterans Day, 2017. (msutexas.edu)