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College sophomore Nathaniel Gordon died on March 23 at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

Credit: Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

College sophomore Nathaniel Gordon died on March 23 at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

Vice Provost for University Life Karu Kozuma and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Paul Sniegowski notified students of Gordon’s death in a Sunday email sent on behalf of Interim Penn President Larry Jameson and Provost John L. Jackson, Jr.

“Whenever a student passes away, we feel a wide range of emotions and a deep sense of loss,” the email read. “Please rely on one another, your loved ones, and University offices for support. We grieve alongside you and will be there to support your needs during this time of great sadness.”

Gordon was a native of Covington, Ga. and moved to Philadelphia when he was 13 years old, according to the email. He graduated from high school through the Gateway to College Program of the Community College of Philadelphia, which provides academic support to students and helps them earn college credit while in high school. The program is a partnership with the city school district.

According to an article from The Philadelphia Inquirer from 2022, Gordon was the first participant in a Philadelphia School District alternative program to attend an Ivy League university in recent memory. At the time, the Inquirer reported that Gordon would major in economics and urban studies at Penn and wanted to find a way to improve lives.

At Penn, Gordon was a member of the Pre-First Year Program and was involved with the Makuu: The Black Cultural Center community. 

Beginning in high school, Gordon was an active member of the Philadelphia community. He interned for State Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), where he volunteered to help people register to vote and provide constituent services. He spearheaded a project on youth civic engagement and volunteered with the CCP’s Institute for Community Engagement and Civic Leadership.

“I’m interested in learning how different systems work, how cities are built, and how this impacts people of color,” Gordon told a news writer for CCP in 2022. 

The University held an in-person support session Sunday in Houston Hall’s Ben Franklin Room and is working to support Gordon’s friends and family. Staff from the Let’s Talk program at Student Health and Counseling are also available to hold confidential, free drop-in conversations during the week.


The Division of Public Safety’s HELP Line: 215-898-HELP (active 24/7)

Student Health and Counseling (if you have a personal or academic concern and want to talk to someone at Penn): 215-898-7021 (active 24/7)

University Chaplain’s Office: 215-898-8456

College of Arts and Sciences Advising Offices: 215-898-6341

School of Engineering and Applied Science Advising Offices: 215-898-7246

School of Nursing Advising Offices: 215-898-6687

Wharton Undergraduate Division Advising Offices: 215-898-7608

Student Health and Counseling (if you don’t feel well): 215-746-WELL

Student Intervention Services: 215-898-6081 >