On Monday night, as Hurricane Sandy ravaged the mid-Atlantic coast, 2010 College graduate Jessie Streich-Kest was killed by a falling tree near her home in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was 24.
Streich-Kest grew up in New York City with her family, and after graduating from Penn she returned to teach at the Bushwick School for Social Justice, a high school in Brooklyn.
In a statement released on Tuesday, her family expressed how she had “left a lasting impression on all who met her, and especially on her students at Bushwick HS for Social Justice, to whom she was deeply committed. Jessie loved life and was deeply devoted to social justice.”
While at Penn, Streich-Kest was known as a great friend and spirited student activist.
She was a member of Penn Haven — an anti-poverty student group devoted to serving the city’s homeless — where she participated in local protests and initiatives for social and economic justice.
2010 College graduate and co-founder of Penn Haven Jimmy Tobias, a former Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer, remembers her as a passionate individual who “brought a lot to the group,” and more importantly, a close friend.
“She was a really unique person, very sweet, thoughtful,” Tobias said. “Everyone who knew her was so impressed with how honest she was. She just spoke her mind.”
“We loved her for who she was,” he added, “and she was always herself.”
2010 College graduate and doctoral candidate in medicine Jonathan Toung said Streich-Kest was “very outgoing” and “had a warm heart.” She and Toung lived in the same hall in Hill College House their freshman year.
Nicholas Giovannone, a 2010 College graduate who also lived on Streich-Kest’s hall, said in an email, “Jessie always strove to leave a positive mark on the world,” including buying a homeless mother food, baby formula and diapers “out of the blue.”
Giavonnone, who is gay, explained that during their freshman year Streich-Kest had helped him to discover his self-confidence in his sexuality and cheered him on in his “newfound freedom to be myself.”
“She was an absolute warrior for tolerance,” he said. “She emanated acceptance.”
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