Srijita Wolf-Gazo, a senior studying psychology at American University, died on April 18, leaving behind a community that remembers her as selfless and caring.
Her death was announced by Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence Fanta Aw in an April 21 email to the University community.
Wolf-Gazo was honored on Tuesday at the afternoon Catholic Mass in Kay Spiritual Life Center, where Father Joseph Piper spoke of her throughout his sermon and led a prayer of remembrance at the end of the service.
“Christians have a different view of death,” Piper said. “It’s not the final end, but it’s a passage, a passover, from this life to the next. It's a beautiful passover, because we pass over to something next, in many ways unknown to us. It’s a dramatic passover. For those who remain on this side, it’s a sorrowful passover, but one filled with hope, hope because we know that there's one who has passed over before us. One who laid down this light for us to follow.”
As candles flickered in the dim rotunda, friends and family of Wolf-Gazo sat in the wooden pews, dressed in black.
The senior, who was also a mother, was a bright light with a deep connection to family, recalled professorial lecturer of psychology Noemi Enchautegui-de-Jesus.
“In the past few months, we had been talking about her desire to create a moms club at the university so that they could have a space to talk to other students who are also moms like her,” Enchautegui-de-Jesus wrote in an email to The Eagle. “We enjoyed talking about our kids … Srijita wanted to make [her daughter] proud of her as she looked into her future career path, and she was also mindful of the ways in which she was setting an example for other young women who came from a similar background.”
Wolf-Gazo was dedicated to helping others, Enchautegui-de-Jesus said, volunteering for a virtual after-school tutoring program during the pandemic where she forged a strong bond with a young student.
“There was this very bright girl but she just had to deal with a lot of distractions in the neighborhood — there was a lot of violence, a lot of drugs, and so [Wolf-Gazo] would create a safe space where [the student] could just come talk to her,” said Marco Rojas, the director of the Annapolis-based tutoring program Wolf-Gazo volunteered with.
Wolf-Gazo volunteered with the program during the spring 2021 semester, helping students with math and history, Rojas said.
“Srijita said she was interested in tutoring because she understood how it is coming from an underserved background and she wanted to not just help them academically, but also help them mentally, spiritually, and just be kind of like a mentor,” Rojas said. “... Just a beautiful soul inside and out and always willing to help in any way she could.”
Professor of psychology Anthony Ahrens, who asked Wolf-Gazo to be a teaching assistant for his introduction to psychology class, said the senior always cared for the students she helped like a mother.
Wolf-Gazo’s attention and preparedness during one of the first virtual semesters was always appreciated by the class of over 100 students, Ahrens said.
“I got a chance to see her in person [last fall] and I visited with her then out in the Asbury courtyard, listening to her talk about her daughter,” Ahrens said. “Every time that we would chat, she was excited about the world and the field [of psychology] and possibilities that were before her.”
Support is available to students through the Counseling Center at 202-885-7979, and to faculty and staff at 800-327-2251.