Students help Lander University professor after devastating house fire


GREENWOOD, S.C. – (WSPA) Students at an Upstate university are helping a Greenwood professor and her family get back on their feet after they lost everything in a fire.

After years of teaching and living in Greenwood, Lander University Professor Rebecca Fernandez stood next to her longtime family home in ashes Wednesday.

Last weekend while she and her family were watching the Clemson game, her son saw a fire blazing on their back deck.

“My husband opened the drapes to our double doors and the fire had already made its way across the deck to the house,” Fernandez recalled.  “We were asking to call 911 and they were asking to please get away from the house.”

They all got out quickly and safely.  She took her young grandson to a neighbors house to keep him from seeing all of the damage. They were only able to salvage a few family memories in parts of the house.

“I didn’t want his memory of our house to be that it was burning,” she added. “I played with him and calmed him down and that helped me keep my focus.”

Almost immediately word got out that Mrs. Fern, as her students call her, needed some help.

“It was just really devastating to all of us and as soon as we heard, we took charge,” Alex Belue, her former student and current Lander University student.

Since it happened, her students and her niece have started crowd funding websites. Some have also offered food, a place to stay or gift cards.

“Just to have someone do that for me is just a blessing,” Mrs. Fern said tearfully. “That is all I can say. We have felt so much love.”

The students say their professor puts out so much love in the world that it was their time to give back to her in her time of need.

“She is so nice. She never has a bad day; she is just a really amazing person and always has a smile on her face,” Belue continued. “It’s all you can do this, you can do this and that is what everyone loves about her.”

It will take awhile for Mrs. Fern and her family to adjust, but she says with their support, she’s optimistic about moving forward with her family and community.

“We have a choice every day to get up and you can choose bad day or you can choose good day and I always choose good day,” she added with a smile.

Firefighters are still investigating how the fire began at the house last weekend.

If you want to help her and her family get back on their feet, you can find the student’s and her niece’s GoFundMe website below:

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