About 70 students mourned the death of sophomore Susan Shin Thursday at a candlelight vigil on Kogan Plaza. The evening affair highlighted the life of an engineering student who dedicated herself to the well being of her friends.
“No matter what your problem, no matter what your issue, she’d be there,” one student said.
Shin died Wednesday afternoon after jumping from the eighth floor of the Elise Apartments building at about 11 a.m. The sophomore, a computer science major was a native of Ashland, Ohio. University officials said Shin died at about noon.
On Thursday morning, officials at the Office of the Medical Examiner confirmed that Shin took her own life.
Friends remembered Shin as an active member of Theta Tau, a national engineering honors fraternity.
“She was very active,” said junior Trey Gibson, a member of Theta Tau. “She’d be doing things even when she didn’t need to be doing them.”
Some described Shin as a “neat freak” and said they remembered her as someone who was always washing dishes or cleaning their bathrooms.
“She had a funny habit. No matter how filthy a bathroom was, when she came out of it, it was spotless,” one student recalled during the vigil.
Others made a point to describe how Shin was always able to make time for her friends.
“She was always there to talk … to clean your bathroom … it didn’t matter what,” another engineering student said. “She was there for all of us.”
Dean Timothy Tong of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences attended the vigil, joining students who lit white candles in front of the clock in Kogan Plaza.
“It’s obvious she had many friends, and as we gather to pay our respects … I hope you find strength in one another,” Tong said.
Others recalled Shin’s motherly instinct. Friends said Shin always tried to make sure her friends wore sweaters on cold days and brushed their teeth before they went to bed.
“She was the most maternal 18-year-old I ever met,” one engineering student recalled. “It didn’t matter what state you were in. You were brushing your teeth before you went to bed.”
Several gatherers also described images of the short Shin always running around campus in a hurry. Gibson described Shin as constantly “moving 150 miles per hour to get somewhere.”
“She was like a little elf, moving around, always running around doing something,” Gibson said. “She always wanted to make people happy, and she was very good at it.”
A student employee at ResNet, where Shin worked, remembered walking to work one morning and seeing a figure “flying past me.”
But some also pointed out that while Shin cared so much for her friends, she may not have understood that the feelings were mutual.
“Selfless – I think anyone here would use that word to describe her,” sophomore Stephen Funari said. “She would help anybody out at any time. The shame is that she didn’t ask for help when she needed it.”
Even for students who did not know Shin, her death – the third suicide of a GW student since February – evoked painful memories. In April, GW freshman Hasan Hussain jumped to his death from his room on the Hall on Virginia Avenue’s fourth floor.
Last week, University officials acknowledged that an incoming GW graduate student died in August. The female student was the seventh to die since December. GW officials refused to release the woman’s name and said she had not yet registered for classes.
GW officials are urging students affected by Shin’s death to contact the University Counseling Center. Students can call the center at 994-5300 to make appointments or stop in unscheduled at 3 p.m. on weekdays.
For now, those close to Shin will have to take solace in fond memories of their friend.
“I think the best thing we can do is dedicate part of our lives to her,” Gibson said. “I think I’m going to go home and do the dishes.”