After fighting acute lymphocytic leukemia for almost a year, Jacqueline Hirsch, an early childhood education major from Williamsville, NY, died on Sept. 6. She was 23 years old.
Hirsch was a vibrant student at Geneseo. She was a member of the Blue Wave swimming and diving team and a sister of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority. "[Geneseo] was an important part of both of our lives," said older brother T.J. Hirsch, a Geneseo alumnus.
She was also an accomplished gymnast and taught younger children at her family's business, the Greater Buffalo Gymnastics & Fitness Center in Amherst, NY.
Prior to her illness, Hirsch taught kindergarten at School 42 in Rochester. A recipient of the Ella Cline Shear Heroine Award, Hirsch was two months away from completing her student teaching and receiving her degree in December 2007, before she fell ill to leukemia.
"When Jacquie had School 42, it became crystal clear that she had a lot of talent in the classroom," said John Williams, interim director of field experience in the school of education. "She was destined for a really good career in education."
"Jacquie's smile and laugh could light up a room and cheer anyone up," said Amanda Cavarella, Hirsch's friend and former teammate. "She went out of her way numerous times to make sure others were okay and to make others feel good."
When Hirsch was undergoing chemotherapy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, she requested to be on the pediatric floor so she could work with the children there.
While she was being treated, Hirsch's family set up a Web site, www.jacquieforall.com, so that friends and family from outside the area could stay updated on her progress. The site eventually became a vehicle for donations, drives, and especially a guestbook where people could leave encouraging messages, "To give Jacquie a lot of inspiration and support," said T.J. Hirsch.
Services were held this week in East Amherst.