April 4, 2017

Cornell Student Remembered for Her ‘Passion for Inclusivity’

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This post has been updated.
Peiran “Joyce” Shi ’19 passed away in a car accident on Interstate 80 in New Jersey on Monday evening.

Two other Cornell students who were in the car were treated for injuries and later returned to Ithaca, according to an email from Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Gretchen Ritter.

“By all accounts, she was a kind, dynamic, and wonderful person, who was open and interested in many different paths,” Ritter wrote in the email. “On behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences, I want to extend my deepest condolences to Joyce’s family, friends, teachers, advisors and classmates.”

Although Shi had planned to major in physics, she took many courses outside of her intended major, including Japanese, Korean, electronic circuits and karate.

Her enthusiasm for so many different disciplines left a lasting mark on her classmates around her.

For Anjelika Amog ’19, Shi’s varying academic passions made Amog personally feel more assured about her interests.

“It’s always nice to be with somebody who’s also so enthusiastic about so many different things, academically and also outside,” Amog said. “Because then it makes me feel a lot less weird. And a lot less crazy, and a lot less insane for doing what I’m doing.”

Amog added that Shi “inspired [her] by how much she loved theoretical physics and math and Japanese all at the same time.”

This inspiration even led Amog to pursue a physics class that Shi took last year — a class she said she is “taking because of how much [Shi] loved it.” Amog explained that as suitemates, Shi was eager to teach concepts that she was learning in class to Amog, even going through her notes from a month before.

Shi’s careful teaching highlighted just one example of her compassion and patience for Amog. As suitemates, living next to Shi was “like having a sister in the suite,” Amog said.

“I’m grateful to have known Joyce, that somehow the university put us in the same suite freshman year,” she said. “She made Mews and subsequently Cornell feel like home for me.”

For Alex Hutchins ’19, Shi’s warmth and compassion made an impact not only on her closest friends but also to the community.

“Even if you were only introduced to Joyce through a mutual friend, she would make a point to wave hello if she saw you walking around,” Hutchins said. “Joyce was one of those special people that was warmhearted to her very core, who greeted others with an easy smile with your eyes met, and who was full of laughter and mirth.”

Outside of her academic interests, Shi brought her passions to different communities on campus, particularly as an active member of Japan-United States Association.

Togo Tamura ’19, president of JUSA, emphasized Shi’s dedication not only in club meetings but also in event planning as well as interactions with club members.

“She always made time for JUSA and was an important member to our community,” Tamura said. “I remember feeling accepted and appreciated for what I brought to JUSA simply by her friendliness. She loved and was passionate to all that she was a part of.”

For Tamura, Shi’s openness and friendliness contributed greatly to the inclusive environment JUSA strives to build.

“JUSA strives on the goal of establishing a community that embraces cultural diversity. And she was very dedicated towards that same goal,” he said. “Her passion for inclusivity and positive outlook on the world made a great impact to all members of JUSA. I remember her being quiet but her kindness and friendliness spoke much louder.”

Hutchins, culture chair for JUSA, echoed Tamura’s sentiments, noting that Shi “was always eager to get to know other members of JUSA and took it upon herself to ask other members of her Japanese class and JUSA members alike about their interest in Japanese culture and language.”

“I had the feeling that she would go places in life because she approached life with this optimism and excitement that was infectious to all those around her,” Hutchins added. “In JUSA and in many other places, Joyce’s passing leaves a hole that her bright persona had so graciously filled.”

A memorial service has been scheduled for Monday, April 10 at 11 a.m. in Sage Chapel.

Cornell support services include counselors from Gannett Counseling and Psychological Services, who can be reached at 607-255-5155. Students may also speak with a peer counselor by calling EARS at 607-255-3277. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program at 607-255-2673. The Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616. For a full list of resources, visit caringcommunity.cornell.edu.

Correction appended: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Shi was a student employee in the financial aid office in Day Hall.