June 18, 2019 | 72° F

Rutgers observes the lives of students who died this past school year

Photo by Pixabay |

Both University Chancellor Debasish Dutta and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Felicia McGinty attended yesterday’s service to honor the lives of 11 students who died this school year. 


On Wednesday, the Division of Student Affairs held Rutgers Remembers, a service to honor the 11 students that died this year. 

The ceremony at Winants Hall remembered the following students: Moustafa Ahmed, a School of Engineering junior, Samuel Choi, a School of Engineering alumnus, Kevin Chang, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, Jungsoo Park, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, Irisa Selfo, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, Euna Shin, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, Brandon Volino, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, Maxwell Witkowski, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year, Kenneth Patterson, a School of Arts and Sciences alumnus, Anthony Sun, an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy senior, and Weining Liu, a graduate student.  

The service began with opening remarks from University Chancellor Debasish Dutta and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Felicia McGinty who spoke about the importance of the community coming together and supporting each other’s loss. 

The event, which was also sponsored by The Alliance to Advance Interfaith Collaboration, featured readings from different chaplins from different backgrounds at the University. 

There was a Sanskrit reading accompanied by its English translation, a reading from the Bible in Hebrew and English, a reading from the Christian Bible in English, a Muslim prayer in Arabic and English and a reading from the Humanist community on campus. 

Rabbi Esther Reed, senior associate director at Rutgers Hillel and organizer of the memorial service, said that as human beings, we have a need to unite and console each other in times of grief.

“As chaplins, we recognize the need for people to come together and mourn, and for the University to have some official recognition is so important and meaningful for family members,” she said. 

Alma Selfo, the mother of Irisa Selfo, said that the memorial meant a lot to her. It was a healing opportunity to join with members of the community that understand her position. 

After the prayers, family and friends of the students that died were encouraged to stand up and share words and memories about their loved ones. 

“We can’t always understand that pain (of losing a child) ... We can be understanding, we can be sympathetic and we can try to support. But only families or those who have been in that position understand what’s in each other’s heart. They’re the only ones that truly understand,” said Jewel Daney, a senior case manager from the Office of Dean of Students.

Shared condolences from the community were followed by the ringing of the Rutgers Bell — a bronze bell that was donated to the school by Henry Rutgers and is rung during special moments at Rutgers.

Daney, a coordinator of the event, said that the bell is unique to Rutgers. 

“We don’t ring it often, but when we ring it, it’s because this is a significant time for the Rutgers community,” she said. 

The people in attendance then reconvened in Winants Hall for families and friends to come together and console. 

Daney said that the Office of the Dean of Students deeply for cares its students and it is often very involved when a student dies. Her and her colleagues are often the first contacts from families. 

“Many of us attend the outside services for the students … It’s very personal for us,” she said.

Daney said that Rutgers is a truly a supportive community. 

“We’re not this huge impersonal place. We do care about our students and we do care enough where we provide a place for families and friends to come together and speak ... they’re part of our family,” she said.

Erica D'Costa

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