Friends, relatives, colleagues and members of the University community gathered at the Kay Spiritual Life Center 4 p.m. Sunday to celebrate the life of Matthew Shlonsky.
The memorial service was held three days after what would have been Shlonsky’s 24th birthday.
Shlonsky, a 2014 graduate of the School of International Service, fell victim to one of D.C.’s multiple gun-related acts of violence over the summer and was the second AU alumnus murdered, The Eagle previously reported.
“This time together will not magically still our sadness or our anger at the tragedy that befell Matt, although we wish it could,” University Chaplain Joseph Eldridge said. “Today is about the importance of remembering and the healing power of stories.”
Shlonsky was an active member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, the men’s club ice hockey team, American Way of Life magazine and the Kennedy Political Union. He was also a volunteer tutor for the Washington Hebrew Congregation. After graduation, he was employed by Deloitte Consulting, according to a statement sent to the SIS community by Dean James Goldgeier on Aug. 17.
Several people approached the podium during the service, sharing stories and poetry, including Goldgeier, Shlonsky’s cousin Laura Shlonsky Caron, Stephanie Tankel of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Sean Morris of Deloitte Consulting, SIS Professor Stephen Tankel, SIS career advisor David Fletcher and friends Brendan Walsh and Matthew Rosenberg.
Walsh, an SIS 2014 alumnus and Shlonsky’s fraternity brother and friend, remembered Shlonsky as a selfless friend who lived life to the fullest and someone who knew the importance of a good bow tie.
“As an only child, he was the brother I never had. He’s the man I wanted to be alongside me, my best man when I got married,” Walsh said. “If I learned anything from this tragedy, it’s to live life like Matt did.”
School of Communication class of 2015 alumnus Matthew Rosenberg, Shlonsky’s friend and “little brother” in the fraternity, shared a letter sent via email from Shlonsky’s parents, Julianne and Michael, in Ohio.
“As his parents, we were so joyful to watch him come to life, and he loved doing it in D.C. We would hear from him daily about all the places he would go and all the friends he would visit. He had so much fun, and his friends were the most important part of him being here,” Rosenberg read. “He loved all of you so much, and we know he’d want every one of you to continue to party without him.”
Eldridge concluded the service with reflection and a message of hope.
“As long as we keep telling stories about Matt, he lives,” Eldridge said.
Immediately following the service, a catered reception was held in the SIS atrium.
To honor Shlonsky, Goldgeier, in collaboration with Shlonsky’s closest friends, established the School of International Service Matthew C. Shlonsky Memorial Fund for the District of Columbia, which will “support SIS faculty and students who wish to draw on their international affairs research to address challenges facing the District of Columbia,” according to a Oct. 6 statement released by Goldgeier. To donate to the fund, visit the University’s Alumni webpage.