Georgetown student Andrea Jaime (NHS ‘17) passed away from apparent meningitis at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on Tuesday afternoon. That evening, students, faculty, and friends gathered in Dahlgren Quadrangle to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Jaime.
Dahlgren’s usually flowing fountain remained still and silent as Fr. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., led the community in prayer and reflection. The Office of Campus Ministry prepared tables with binders for attendees to express feelings and offer prayers for Jaime and her family. “[For] Andrea’s family, who feel so very much your presence and your prayers and your love in the past 24 hours, it has meant a very, very great deal to them,” O’Brien said.
Cinthya Salazar, assistant director for academic student support services at the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, knew Jaime closely through her work with the Community Scholars Program and also spoke at the service. “When someone is taken from us suddenly, at far too young an age, it’s as if they’ve been torn from us,” she said. “It’s as if there’s a tear in the fabric of our lives where Andrea once stood and smiled.”
Director of the Georgetown Scholarship Program Missy Foy commended the care taken by O’Brien in preparing for the memorial service. “The thoughtfulness that [Fr. O’Brien] put into it, how do we celebrate her life adequately—he cared so much about how to comfort students best,” she said.
Jaime was an active member of GSP, participating in activities such as its “Dare to Thrive” challenge designed to help students make the most of Georgetown and volunteering to work in the office. “To be selected for GSP … it’s a really high honor, and one of which she was very deserving,” said Foy. “We are certainly proud to have her as a member of our program.”
Foy was touched by the University’s response during Jaime’s last days, noting in particular the compassion of Professor Joan Riley, who opened her Copley apartment to students around 10 p.m. on Monday.
“Within 15 minutes there were 50 students, that’s of course when ‘RIP’ was appearing on her Facebook, which was tragic—really tragic—so of course students were confused,” said Foy, referring to the spread of preemptive memorial messages across Jaime’s social media accounts on Monday evening.
“I saw three chaplains-in-residence [and] the head of campus ministry himself, who I think cancelled some trip to make sure he was there to pray with the students and explain to them, ‘I just came from seeing her family and this is exactly what the status is, and I’m here with you, we care about you, these are the resources that are available,’” Foy said.
Hospital officials confirmed her diagnosis of meningitis—however, they are awaiting test results to determine whether the illness was viral or bacterial, with the latter being more deadly, though less likely. “We will inform the University community as soon as we learn more from those tests, and we are in regular communication with the hospital and the Department of Health,” wrote Assistant Vice President of Student Health Services Dr. James Welsh in an email to the Voice.
In an email sent to GSP members, program leaders urged students who are concerned about their health to visit the Student Health Center, regardless of cost. “Please don’t worry about finances; we will reimburse any charges that result for medical care related to this through the GSP Grant Application,” stated the email.
Andrea Jaime died from meningitis, but she lived for her passions and dreams. Having taken the Georgetown Emergency Medical Services EMT class last spring, Jaime was on track to pursue her career in medicine.
Christine Pfeil, associate director of GSP and Jaime’s advisor within the program, described Jaime as a “go-getter” who was full of joy and life. She shared a fond memory from Jaime’s first days as a GSP freshman last fall. “It’s a time when people are generally timid, a couple of students were sitting quietly in our office and Andrea is not—talking, laughing, making people feel comfortable, making jokes about our broken Keurig machine,” she said. “Just so joyful and making people feel at ease, and making people feel welcome, and bringing joy where she went. I remember that of her, and just her stubborn perseverance on the path that she saw for herself into the medical field. She knew that’s what she wanted, and she went for it from day one. She was an inspiration—I think it’s a huge loss.”