She was a gifted cook who often brought treats to the office, but she also brought desperately needed food to students who were struggling financially.
It is with profound and great sadness that we note the passing of Mrs. Saphronia Drake on Saturday, January 30, 2021. For more than two decades, with boundless generosity, an engaging sense of humor, acute professionalism, and an unparalleled commitment and dedication to students, she served as the Senior Administrative Assistant to the Department of Political Science, the Graduate Program Administrator and as the Administrative Assistant to the Chair.
Mrs. Drake began her service in the Political Science Department in 1995. Her ability to master tasks with efficiency and precision became legendary.
Mrs. Saphronia Drake was a rare gem, a personification of motherly love and humanity.
She worked assiduously to foster the vision and mission of the Department of Political Science, especially in so far as the students are concerned. She managed to maintain the responsibilities of the Department in lean and difficult times of unprecedented departmental changes, doing so with unflappable resilience and dignity.
Her work for the Department was less a job and more a calling. Mrs. Drake transformed her office into a vineyard for good; an office of advocacy and guidance for students; her office was also an oasis for faculty and students alike to smooth out the rough edges of a tough day or situation. She was deeply dedicated to producing mature, educated, service-oriented, and ethical young women and men. She believed deeply in the mission of Howard and conveyed that to the thousands of students she mentored and cared for over the years. She earned the title of “mother” as so many students embraced her as such and viewed her as close to family as possible. Like great mothers everywhere, she had the highest expectations of our students and would not accept them doing less than what she knew they were capable of accomplishing.
She met the challenges of the job with creativity, ingenuity, and a fierce determination to always do the right and moral thing.
Her ethical compass always pointed North. Her efforts translated into exceptionally long hours and sacrifice to ensure that graduations, graduate acceptance, financial aid, the other needs of the faculty and Department were met.
Mrs. Drake was also immensely religious; her disposition emanated from her deep and abiding Christian faith and an ardent God centered philosophy of life. Her faith in God guided her actions and her words and anchored her relationships with all around her. She fastened her life to the Christian values of humility, self-denial and surrender to the will of God.
Mrs. Drake’s abiding faith led her to seek and almost always find the good in every individual. She demanded that everyone be treated with respect and dignity no matter their status, station in life, or moment of challenge.
Family was central to her life as well. She passionately loved her children, grandchildren, and her husband Paul down to her very core. Nothing brought Mrs. Drake more pleasure than family gatherings and occasions, especially holidays.
She was a gifted cook who often brought treats to the office, but she also brought desperately needed food to students who were struggling financially. She would take students grocery shopping or give them funds out of her own pocket. No one starved around Mrs. Drake.
Mrs. Drake touched every community associated with the university from the custodial staff to the campus police to retired faculty and staff to administrators and managers to cafeteria workers to alumni to donors to mail deliverers and to salespeople.
Not only did they all know her, but she knew them and their stories. Her warm personality and ready openness to friendship will be missed.
We send prayers and blessings to the family. Mrs. Drake’s uplifting spirit is embedded in not only the history and life of the Department, but also radiates in each of us. Mrs. Drake was gentle; within her daily testimony was a steady adherence to the need to do good at all times.
We are better, as is the Department, university, and world because Mrs. Drake lived such a wonderful and giving life. May God grant her the grace to see the light of his face. She will be forever alive in our hearts.