Twenty-one-year-old senior Kelsey Annese died on Jan. 17. Excelling in both her academics and extracurricular activities, the education and Spanish double major was also a point guard and co-captain for the Geneseo’s women’s basketball team. Annese was extremely passionate about her career goal of teaching elementary education with a focus in special education, finding joy in her field placement work at a Rochester elementary school and preparing to take the next step by student teaching in New York City this summer. The Webster, New York native kept busy with her studies, basketball and her two jobs at Wegmans and the MacVittie College Union. Recognizing the importance of balancing work and play, Annese was also an avid reader, Netflix viewer and always made time to hang out with her friends and teammates.
Junior Kayleigh Cavanaugh emphasized Annese’s role as a positive role model and a devoted teammate.
“She was an incredible leader, very selfless … always was willing to put other people before herself,” she said. “She was really accountable, especially in practice. We do crunches when we miss layups and sometimes it can slip your mind when you’re in the middle of a practice, but she was always the first one down to do her crunches.”
Cavanaugh noted that she, like many others, was blessed to have known Annese as an incredibly kind and caring friend.
“I know one night, a few freshmen and I went to U-Hots to get garbage plates and it was closed because of the intercession,” Cavanaugh said. “We texted in our group, ‘What are we going to do, there’s no food.’ And she was the first one to respond with, ‘I’ll make you pancakes, just come back to my house.’”
Annese was not only a respected and loved teammate but also a dedicated and enthusiastic student. “Kelsey was the kind of student who made sure everybody was participating in whatever way that they could,” assistant professor of the Ella Cline Shear School of Education Susan Salmon said. “So for me … she was such a great student because she really cared about everyone in the classroom.”
Salmon reiterated the welcoming, supporting presence that people loved about Annese. She recalled the reaction of students when she texted Annese’s field placement teacher to tell the class of Annese’s passing, the students said, “That was our Kelsey. How could something have happened to our Kelsey?”
In addition to offering herself as a positive model for her students and a shoulder to lean on, Annese’s light-hearted sense of humor and fun kept her fellow teammates in high spirits on and off the court.
“We were playing Buffalo State and no one ever knew she had a double-jointed back … she bent back and her head was literally at her butt,” Cavanaugh said. “It was just so funny because we were all laughing and no one knew that about Kels. Just those little things that she did made us laugh.”
Cavanaugh emphasized that she believed Annese helped to improve her own outlook on life. “She always brought a smile, you know?” she said. “She was always so positive and really put life in perspective and made you think about the big picture … Just being around her made you a better person.”
In memory of Annese’s countless contributions to the Geneseo community as a student, teacher, teammate and friend, Salmon suggested that acting with kindness and generosity is the greatest way to honor her.
“That is what I think that we can do to remember her … be as caring and as giving and as willing to reach out,” Salmon said. “Be a little crazy to get students involved. I think that we have to keep that spirit of her alive.”
Annese is survived by her mother Krista, father Ronald, brother Dylan, sister Grace and grandparents Ron and Gail Annese.