Two vigils held on Monday, Oct. 24 — one hosted by the Princeton Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Association (PEESA) and another hosted by the University through the Office of Religious Life (ORL) — commemorated and honored the life of Misrach Ewunetie ’24, who was found dead on campus on Thursday after being missing for six days.
At both events, those who knew Ewunetie shared memories of her brilliance, kindness, and incredibly generous spirit.
Members of Ewunetie’s family were in attendance at the PEESA vigil. PEESA co-presidents Faeven Mussie ’24 and Joachim Ambaw ’24 organized the event, which was held in the University Chapel.
“We lost a really, really integral part of our community,” Ambaw said in an opening statement to the event.
Ewunetie’s father thanked everyone for being there, and shared words in both Amharic and English on behalf of the family.
A priest brought in by the Ewunetie family led a prayer and a religious song during the event.
The Chapel was over half-full, with more than 500 students, faculty, and other community members in attendance.
Genie Choi ’24 and Jamie Feder ’23, two of Ewunetie’s friends, spoke as well. Both reflected on having first met Ewunetie while taking COS 126: Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach — the introductory computer science course — during the fall 2020 semester when the whole of the student body was remote due to COVID-19.
Feder shared how that semester, she and Ewunetie “would FaceTime every week, supposedly to study but mostly to just talk and complain about the class.”
“Misrach was exceptionally kind and always went above and beyond. I would tell her in passing about my musical performances and she would always, unasked but appreciated, videotape songs for me and send them to me,” Feder added. “She was a great friend, beautiful, smart, and funny. She will be forever missed.” (Feder shared her remarks in writing with The Daily Princetonian after the event.)
Choi recalled that this year, she and Ewunetie decided to be roommates.
“We had truly some of the best [memories] in that Scully room,” she said.
At the ORL vigil, staff of New College West (NCW), Ewunetie’s residential college, were present, as well as Dean of the College Jill Dolan and Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun.
The first floor of Murray-Dodge Hall was filled by more than 120 students, with the vigil spreading into three different rooms.
On behalf of Amanda Kural ’24, who joined the event via FaceTime, Gaea Lawton ’23 read, “Towards the end of the semester, I was struggling with some difficult issues in my personal and family lives. Although she was a relatively recent friend, Misrach offered me unconditional kindness and support. That was the kind of person she was.”
Lawton is a staff cartoonist for the ‘Prince.’
Professor AnneMarie Luijendijk, Head of NCW, said, “We’re all so heartbroken by this loss. And as Matt [Matthew Weiner, Associate Dean of Religious Life] already said, there’s so many questions and it’s just such a difficult period for us as a community.”
Professors who knew Ewunetie also expressed their condolences and shared memories about her as a student.
“The vibe I got from her was always positivity. She had a twinkle in her eyes, a smile on her face,” said Filiz Garip, a professor for SOC 300: Claims and Evidence in Sociology, which Misrach was enrolled in.
Professor Mitchell Duneier, who serves as the chair of the sociology department, added that “our department plans to make her memories central to our department’s collective life.”
A GoFundMe has been created in order to assist the Ewunetie family “with the expenses associated with a funeral, an independent autopsy, and significant travel.” As of Tuesday, Oct. 25, it had raised $107,000 from 1,400 donors.
Terrace Club, the eating club where Ewunetie was a member, is hosting a vigil for its members on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. Terrace also canceled all social events for the coming week out of respect to Ewunetie.
The vigil hosted by PEESA occurred inside the University Chapel at 5 p.m., and the vigil hosted by the ORL took place in Murray-Dodge Hall at 7 p.m.
Katherine Dailey is a head news editor who often covers breaking news, politics, and University affairs. Please direct any corrections requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to reflect ongoing donations to Ewunetie family’s GoFundMe.