Saturday, April 6, 2013

Donna From Downey.

Alyssa Sialaris
One of my students was found dead Thursday night. There are very few details, but she was a lovely and brilliant young woman, with many friends, a student athlete.

I know each of us has our favorites, young people who are so clearly going to change the world, make it better, strive and achieve. I know we're also supposed to be professionals, maintain distance, etc. But if you have blood in your veins you know that some of them just reach you differently, and you think of yourself as being bonded in some way.

And one of mine is lost forever now and I am grieving.

Godspeed, Alyssa.


from the Whittier Daily News

Whittier College athlete Alyssa Sialaris was found dead Thursday night of unknown causes in her off-campus apartment, campus officials said. She was 21.
The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office has not made a determination of the cause of death, only saying that there were no visible signs of trauma.
Whittier police officials said Sialaris' roommate discovered the body in a bedroom.
"Alyssa was a bright young woman, courageous and promising - a true asset to our campus community," Whittier College President Sharon Herzberger said. "Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to her family, her close friends, and the faculty and coaches who came to know her well. She will be sorely missed by her Poet family."
Originally from San Jose, Sialaris, a senior, was majoring in kinesiology and nutrition science. She was set to graduate next month with academic distinction, college officials said in a statement.


  1. Donna is a longtime community member who asked me to post this under a pseudonym.

  2. This is so awful Donna, I am sorry for the girl, her family and all who knew her.

    I had a student who took 8 classes with me take his own life two years ago. It was shocking and has stuck with me almost as hard as the sudden death of my own father.

    How could we not learn to like or at least appreciate them? At the core, I truly believe it is our intrinsic humanity that makes us care enough to teach anyway. For the best and worst of us, that leaves us vulnerable in many ways.

    (Which is why we care enough to be miserable.)

    Don't stop.

  3. There are such sad stories around college campuses, every year it seems. We come here to let loose our vexation and misery, yet most of us go back into the classroom hopeful and ready.

    It's because of kids like Alyssa, and all the kids like her we see on every one of our campuses.

    I share my sympathy with you, Donna. I know it sometimes seems overwrought to think of the young people in our classes as "ours," but they often become that, even if just for a few semesters.

    1. Indeed they do. At one point in grad school, several of us who were TAing discovered that we each harbored the fear that, while trying to drive in our decidedly pedestrian-oriented college town, we would manage to hit one of our own students. Of course we didn't want to hit any pedestrian, but somehow hitting one of our students seemed much, much worse.

  4. Oh, dear, Donna. That's so sad, and so hard for you, and for her friends. I'm sorry.

  5. This is so sad. I am so sorry for her family and for you, Donna.

  6. another community member wanted to reply to Donna:
    That's awful, Donna.

    Whittier is my alma mater, and the news about Alyssa Sialaris makes me deeply sad. Although our Poet Nation is small, we are proud of outstanding women like her.

    I remember when a girl I knew socially, a Metaphonian, stepped off a curb and in front of a car; her death sent a shockwave through the school, and even now, I sometimes think of her and remember the warm, friendly woman who disappeared from our lives.

    Alyssa Sialaris will likewise be missed. My best wishes go out to you.

  7. This is tragic. I am so sad for you and for her family. We all need to hug our loved ones every day! I am sure you will never forget her.

  8. I'm so sorry, Donna. A sad, sad story.

  9. I'm sorry, Donna. Thank you for sharing this, and condolences to you and your colleagues (and of course to Alyssa's family and friends).


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