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Credit: Julio Sosa

More than a hundred students gathered on Sept. 8 outside Van Pelt Library to commemorate the life of Nicholas Moya, a College senior and former president of Sigma Alpha Mu, who died by suicide on Aug. 31. 

After the Penn Glee Club opened with a performance of "Amazing Grace," University Chaplain Reverend Chaz Howard led the ceremony. Members of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu and the sorority Sigma Delta Tau were most represented among the audience and speakers. Moya’s mother, Ruth Sannell, and Mathematics senior lecturer Nakia Rimmer, who was a favorite math instructor of Moya's, also shared memories they had of him.

Rimmer, who taught Moya and mentored him in his role as a data analyst for Penn’s basketball team said he remembered Moya most for his perpetual smile. 

“Why was he smiling? Because he loved what he was doing,” Rimmer said. 

Between tears and hugs, students chuckled as Rimmer described how Moya, who was very excited when a Penn basketball player scored but also very eager to record the shot for his data collection, would often do a combined “cheer and then a jot-down shot.”

Sannell, through tears, spoke of her son as “an old soul — intuitive and inquisitive."

"He had a laugh that was contagious,” she added. 

College senior Phillip Huffman who was in the same Sigma Alpha Mu pledge class as Moya remembered him for the life lessons he imparted to those around him. 

"He was the person who taught me how to ask for help," Huffman said. 

Sigma Alpha Mu brothers also presented Sannell with a plaque describing Moya as a wonderful brother, friend and classmate. 

At the end of the ceremony, Howard called for a moment of silence and commended the love and care the Greek community has expressed this past week. He acknowledged that the death of a student is just as painful to administrators as it is to classmates and friends. 

“We grow to love you all,” he said, “A lot of us are heartbroken, too.”


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