English and communication double major senior Alexandra Ciarcia died on Thursday Sept. 21 at age 21. The many communities she touched have been grieving her passing.
As both an English and communication major, Ciarcia’s passions mostly revolved around her love of the written word. She involved herself academically by working on publications such as the literary journal Gandy Dancer as a fiction and creative non-fiction reader. In addition, she was an executive board member of the Sigma Tau Delta honor society and the managing editor of The Lamron. Ciarcia also held an internship with the Office of Communications & Marketing since her sophomore year.
“When I heard the news, I was physically shaken,” Media Relations Director David Irwin said. “She was one of the best interns I’ve ever had at Geneseo … She was smart, curious, involved and she was a great representative of the student body.”
A native of Pleasantville, N.Y., Ciarcia began her time at Geneseo with an intellectual curiosity that Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Beth McCoy noticed immediately.
“I think you could see such an incisive voraciousness with which she approached her intellectual life,” McCoy said in a phone interview. “Reading her writing teaches me a lesson, reminding me that I can learn in any situation from anything.”
To professors, Ciarcia was the quintessential student.
“I think ultimately, what I’m feeling right now is just the fact that I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know her, to get to work with her, to get to see her grow over the years and to have her contribute to our classes in the way that she did,” associate professor of communication Meredith Harrigan said.
In Ciarcia, professor of English and Gandy Dancer faculty advisor Rachel Hall similarly saw a strong desire to learn as much as possible.
“If there was an assignment that you could do an easy way or a more interesting, difficult way, Alex took the more interesting and difficult way,” Hall said. “She’s the kind of student that you’re happy to see in your class.”
The list of organizations that recognized Ciarcia as exemplary is practically endless. She earned a place on the Dean’s List all six semesters she could qualify, served on the executive board of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, and in the spring of her junior year, the Department of Communication awarded her the prestigious John V. Lynn ’83 Memorial Annual Scholarship in Journalism.
Beyond the classroom and her further academic-related extracurricular activities, Ciarcia undoubtedly lifted the spirits of her friends and peers. To former managing editor Nicole Sheldon ‘17, she brought levity to The Lamron office.
“She had this understated humor that you didn’t really expect from her as this quiet girl who would focus on her work,” Sheldon said in a phone interview. “She would just come up with some random thing and I could just hear her laugh and laugh and laugh, and when she starts laughing she can’t stop and so she starts crying.”
Director of Communication Internships, associate professor of communication and chair of the communication department Andrew Herman attested to Ciarcia’s unwavering optimism. Even when others inconvenienced her, Herman remembers that he never heard her speak negatively about them.
Former Lamron editor-in-chief Taylor Frank ‘16 believes that Ciarcia was an inclusive force for the various organizations she was a part of.
“I think she wanted people to feel good about themselves and happy to be a part of the paper,” Frank said in a phone interview. “I think anyone you’ll talk to who’s worked with her or for her would say the same thing.”
As president of the sorority Phi Lambda Chi for the second semester in a row, not only was Ciarcia thoroughly involved on the Geneseo campus, but everyone around her admired Ciarcia. Her closest friends in the organization held her in the highest regard.
“She taught us all to be a little more laidback and to always keep smiling whenever something gets tough––she went through a lot of tough things and always came out on top,” Phi Lambda Chi member senior Kaitlyn Davis said. “She was also super professional and everything. She would go from zero to 100. She was always very efficient.”
“I just hope her parents know that she was really happy at Geneseo; she was thriving,” Phi Lambda Chi member senior Sheila Khan said. “Even if her senior year was cut short, we know that [Phi Lambda Chi] made her Geneseo experience very nice.”
Seen as a role model to many, Ciarcia’s sorority sisters mourn the loss of an irreplaceable friend. Ciarcia’s little and Phi Lambda Chi member junior Madeline Walker found her friendship with Ciarcia to be a rare, instant connection.
“Most people you meet in college, you gradually become friends with, but with her, it was right away––I knew she was going to be an important person in my life from the get-go,” she said. “I know that she’s probably in a better place now and I feel better about it more, but the way I feel right now is that a part of me is missing. It might always feel like that and that’s not something I can control, but I deeply will continue to care about her for the rest of my life.”
Survivors include her loving brother and best friend Chris Ciarcia, her devoted father Dennis Ciarcia (Madonna Swanson). Her loving aunts, uncles and cousins: James Ciarcia (Michelle Ciarcia; children: Melissa Ciarcia, Rebecca Ciarcia-Haase) Howie Ciarcia (Debbie Burnell; children: Irene Brunell, Grace Burnell) Theresa Clarke (children: Cayla Clarke), Robert Ciarcia, and Diane Ciarcia (children: Nikki).
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Thursday Sept. 28 at the Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church in Pleasantville. Following Mass there was a gathering to celebrate the wonderfulness of Alex.