Tech and emotional support, Jason Walker consoles SBCC


August Lawrence

IT User Support Services Director and Campus Chaplain Jason Walker outside of City College’s Luria Library on Monday, Nov. 1 in Santa Barbara, Calif. Walker takes the responsibility of helping the community through times of loss and sorrow by leading different ceremonies like flag lowerings, tree plantings and bench dedications.

Sydney Hammer, Staff Writer

Apart from being the Director of Information Technology User Support Services, Jason Walker comforts grieving individuals as City College’s campus chaplain.

When Dean of Student Affairs and Chaplain Keith McLellan retired in 2011, the flag ceremonies and services left with him. 

Walker and the City College Bereavement Services Team decided it was time to bring the ceremonies back to the school after the death of employees Marc Sullivan and Ricardo Ornelas. 

“We had an eight to ten-year period where we didn’t have any ceremonies. I approached Anthony Beebe, who was the president at the time, and he was very much in support of [reintroducing the ceremonies,]” Walker said. 

Walker voluntarily became the campus chaplain in November of 2019 and led the ceremony for Ornelas. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bereavement Services Team didn’t host any gatherings or ceremonies when classes became entirely online. 

“COVID presented a lot of challenges. Unfortunately during the pandemic, group gatherings were shut down. A student passed in March of 2020, and we weren’t able to host a flag lowering ceremony or tree planting service,” the chaplain said. 

The team didn’t host another service until earlier this year when protocols opened up. 

“We had a tree planting ceremony for a young lady who had passed but limited it to ten people. It was very small, just family and friends,” Walker said. 

Along with the flag lowering ceremonies and tree planting services offered by the Bereavement Services Team, families are also able to purchase a tile to stay in the Memory Garden on campus. 

Beginning in the spring, the team will be hosting bench dedication ceremonies and placing benches around campus in honor of late City College community members. 

After the death of DSPS faculty member Janet Hose, the team hosted a flag ceremony which will be followed by a bench dedication in the spring. 

“We’ve ordered three benches, one is planned for Janet Hose and another is for David Stone, a beloved member of the community who passed during COVID,” the IT user support services director said. 

The benches will be engraved with the name of the individual in which they memorialize. 

“We have also ordered plaques that will be placed at each location that we have planted a tree. This way, we can remember the person and the tree, and we’ll be able to fulfill our commitment of keeping those trees through generations,” he said. 

Outside of City College, Walker is a chaplain and pastor at Impact Ministry. 

“Here on campus, my main role as campus chaplain is the bereavement services… helping coordinate logistics with families that are coming. If a family is looking for spiritual support, I don’t advocate my faith over someone else’s,” Walker said. 

If a family is looking for a connection with someone of a specific religion or spiritual background, Walker will help put the family in contact with the best resource for their faith. 

“On my own time, I spend a lot of time as an end-of-life chaplain and doula, I help folks that are transitioning and know their life is coming to an end or those who have lost somebody,” he said. 

In addition to assisting those dealing with loss, Walker also works with veterans and previously incarcerated individuals.  

“I work with those trying to transition back into life, that’s helping them get connected with resources. If there are people looking for a job, I work with them to put a resume together… really coming along people who are trying to change their circumstances and transition into a better situation,” he said. 

The volunteer campus chaplain said he is grateful to be in the role and is eager to help out as many people as possible. 

“This is something I think is very special. It’s a privilege,” he said. “There are a lot of us that come together to make this happen. It takes a team effort.”