Vincent Harris, Beloved Engaged Campus Leader, Dies at 21

Vincent Harris, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’22 and a leader on-campus, died on Tuesday, May 10 at 21 years old. He is remembered for his humor, kindness, wit and character.

University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., sent an email to the Fordham community regarding Harris’ passing the following day. 

“Vincent was a talented, warm-hearted, and highly engaged member of our campus community who gave of himself in so many ways,” McShane said. “Words cannot fully convey the tragedy of losing someone so young and so full of promise.”

A 2018 Regis High School graduate, Harris was a member of the College Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) and served as a peer counselor, facilitator and instructor for Bronx-area students in the pre-college Science and Technology Entry Program, the sibling program of CSTEP for high and middle school students. Additionally, he was recognized as a Dean’s List recipient, won the CSTEP Scholar Award in May 2022 and was nominated for many other awards throughout the commencement season. 

Following graduation, he enrolled in the U.S. Marine Corps’ Platoon Leadership Course and was due to be commissioned a second lieutenant on June 10, according to the university’s email. 

Harris was involved in several clubs, academics and extracurricular activities on campus. He was on the executive board of ASILI, the Black Student Alliance at Rose Hill, and the Caribbean African Students Association. McShane noted in the email that in Harris’ positions, he facilitated discussions that promote cross-cultural understanding. Harris also contributed to the task force on undergraduate advising and served as a resident assistant in Loschert Hall.

“He was the kind of life force who would throw himself into experiences with full gusto, endless passion, and joy, and with apparent ease, that made you want to be around him and hear his deep voice, jokes and laughter.” Maria Ebner, senior lecturer in German

At Fordham, Harris double-majored in German language and literature and philosophy, the latter earning him the Teaching Race Across the Curriculum grant, according to Fordham News. The grant collaborates with professors and administrators to diversify the subject’s curriculum. 

Maria Ebner, a senior lecturer in German who was Harris’ professor for four courses since the fall of 2018, spoke to his passion for German language and culture, as well as his compassionate disposition.

“He was the kind of life force who would throw himself into experiences with full gusto, endless passion, and joy, and with apparent ease, that made you want to be around him and hear his deep voice, jokes and laughter,” Ebner said. “It was contagious being around Vincent. You couldn’t help but feel better, happier, and more alive when talking with Vincent.”

“The friendship, advice and kind words he gave me can never be replaced. He pushed me to be a better student.” Jillian Klostermann, FCRH ’25

One of her most prominent memories of Harris was a modern-day adaptation he wrote of a famous play titled “The Good Person of Szechwan.” The adaptation focused on societal problems such as poverty, unemployment, women’s rights and religion. 

“It was beautifully written, in German, full of details and depth and wit and biting remarks but full of hope,” she said. “And this is how I got to know Vincent. As a person full of life and potential.” 

Ebner was also Harris’ professor for a course he was enrolled in during the spring 2022 semester titled Writing Under German Censorship. She described her time as Harris’ instructor as a profound honor and cherished the moments she shared with him as she recalled his character, humanity, wisdom and “contagious smile.”

In a letter written to her Writing Under German Censorship class following the news of Harris’ passing, Ebner reflected on her time as Harris’ instructor and the impact she wishes to impart as an instructor. 

“Being his teacher for the last two years has been such a tremendous honor and joy,” she said. “All a teacher ultimately really wants and works for is to support and watch and care for you; to see you grow, help you recognize your strengths, embrace all of your traits and quirks, and navigate a small patch of our journey together, in kindness and with an open and curious heart and mind, and to send you off into your own future and happiness.” 

Jillian Klostermann, FCRH ’25 and a classmate in Harris’ German class, recalled his attempts to extend support and assistance to her during the course. 

“The friendship, advice and kind words he gave me can never be replaced. He pushed me to be a better student,” she said. “Not only did he want me to be a better student but he wanted me to be a better person.”

Klostermann remembered Harris and their tendency to laugh at one another’s mistakes during class. She recalled their final conversation after class in which he encouraged her to live in the moment and cherish her undergraduate years.

“Spending time with Vincent was not only a blast since he was such a fun-loving and entertaining guy, but was also so enlightening and intellectually stimulating.” Mike Becue, graduate of Regis High School

“Vincent was truly one of the most determined, intelligent, funny and kind people I’ve ever met. His presence will be missed immensely, but I will always remember him and the advice he gave me,” she said. “Live in the now, take every opportunity and foster good relationships. I am forever changed having the friendship of Vincent.”

Mike Becue, a senior at The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a fellow graduate of Regis High School, recalled Harris’ humor and the inside jokes they both shared, alongside his zest for debating intellectual topics. 

“It consistently amazed me how much he knew about a topic, even to the point that he would fully lay out the arguments that each viewpoint could make about the subject,” he said. “Spending time with Vincent was not only a blast since he was such a fun-loving and entertaining guy, but was also so enlightening and intellectually stimulating.”

Becue remembered Harris as a jovial and energetic friend whom he had the pleasure of knowing.

“Vince was also the kind of person to make sure others were never left out.” Emilio Marino, FCRH ’25

“He was such a brilliant yet humble friend that I know we’ll all never forget, thinking back we’re all better for having known him and learned alongside and from him,” Becue said.

Emilio Marino, FCRH ’25 and a resident in Loschert Hall where Harris served as a resident assistant, noted Harris’ tendency to lend a helping hand and include others. During finals week, Harris suggested studying tips and provided academic support to Marino.

“Vince was also the kind of person to make sure others were never left out, if he saw someone on the sidelines of a get together or dorm activity he would actively try to get them to socialize and participate, always bringing out the best of people, and encouraging them to come out of their shells,” Marino said. 

Jake Barnes, FCRH ’25 and another one of Harris’ residents, underscored the impact Harris’ leadership and oversight had on his residence hall and the university as a whole.

“It’s hard to find people like Vincent today, as I hope I turn out to be the man that he was.” Jake Barnes, FCRH ’25

“For the time I’ve known him, I can see that he was one of the best people I’ve ever met. He was always there for people when they needed help, and he was a leader in a community where it was needed most,” Barnes said. “It’s hard to find people like Vincent today, as I hope I turn out to be the man that he was.”

The university has offered support services to students, faculty, staff and alumni from the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services, Campus Ministry and University Health Services. A memorial Mass was held in the University Church at Rose Hill on Friday, May 13. 

 

Allie Stofer contributed additional reporting to this story. 

 

Fordham has made the following resources available for students, faculty, staff and alumni:

Counseling and Psychological Services:

Lincoln Center

140 West 62nd Street, Room G-02

Phone: (212) 636-6225

 

Rose Hill

O’Hare Hall, Basement

Phone: (718) 817-3725

Campus Ministry:

Rose Hill

Campus Center | CMCE Suite 215

441 E. Fordham Rd.

Bronx, NY 10458

Phone: (718) 817-4500

[email protected]

Lincoln Center

Lowenstein 217

New York, NY 10023

Phone: (212) 636-6267

[email protected]

University Health Services:

[email protected]

Lincoln Center: (212) 636-7160

Rose Hill: (718) 817-4160

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here