In Memoriam: Campus Community Mourns the Loss of Ra’ed Al-Shdafait

By Ogden Wright, Business Manager

Ra''ed Al-Shdafait, Class of 2013, passed away last week in Jordan.

On a characteristically beautiful Sunday, early in the afternoon, members of the campus community gathered in a sunlit Stetson Chapel to remember and celebrate the life of Ra’ed Al-­ Shdafait, ’13.

In a Hornet Hive announcement this past weekend the College stated suicide as his cause of death. He was living in his native homeland of Jordan at the time of his death.

A theatre major and dedicated member of the Facilities Management (FacMan) staff, Ra’ed was a quiet, unassuming young man who was a super senior at Kalamazoo College. He was often times described by people as a kind, genuine and thoughtful individual, who was always found to be sporting a smile, and acted as a constant source of warmth.

Friends and co-workers gathered to reflect on his presence here at K and the unmistakable contribution that he made to their lives. Alongside the touching musical tributes made by Music Department Professor Leslie Tung and
Ed Menta, Director of Theatre Arts, came other heartfelt tributes made by members of faculty and staff.

These tributes included those made by Chaplain compassionate person.” She reminded those present at the memorial of the resources available for persons in need of counseling and support.

Angela Gross, Assistant Director in the Centre for International Programs, spoke of Ra’ed as a thoughtful and caring person;; traits she recognized the instant he arrived from Jordan in 2009.

Sarah Westfall, Dean of Students, also reflected on his good nature and mentioned, “As a community, we have lost a dear and precious person.”

His peers and co-­workers at FacMan also had similar feelings to share. One such person is Melany Diaz, ’16 who worked closely with him during the past summer on the FacMan crew. 

She spoke of Ra’ed as someone who always had a smile. She also mentioned that “He always thought the best of people, ” and added, “the smallest gestures meant the world to him.”

She spoke of his industriousness as an employee at Facman, and reflected on his ability to dedicate himself to any task assigned to him. ”He always got the job done, and never complained,” she said. 

One of Ra’ed friends on campus, Rasheed Hammouda, ’14 had similar sentiments to share about him. He spoke of his good nature, as well as his active interest and engagement with anyone he interacted with.

He stated that Ra’ed was “the kind of person who genuinely seemed interested in knowing how you were doing.”

Hammouda also reflected on Ra’ed’s dedication to the things that mattered the most to him.

“The fact that he cared so much was evident in his family obligations with chemistry, while pursuing his passions in the theatre,” he said. 

The Index would like to extend our sincerest condolences and support to Ra’ed’s friends and family, as well as to those whose lives he managed to impact in what was, no doubt, a very powerful way. 

Resources are available to grieving students such as the Counseling Center and Gryphon Place, a 24-­hour suicide prevention hotline based in Kalamazoo, to help those who may harbor suicidal thoughts or struggling with overwhelming life challenges.