Hundreds of family, friends, faculty, and students gathered at Emerson College on November 6 to celebrate the life of Grace Kaskie ’11, who died unexpectedly on July 25 in Santa Maria, California. Kaskie, 21, of Golf, Illinois, studied film, focusing on producing and documentary filmmaking.
The service, which was organized by Kaskie’s friends Alexa McMahon ’11, Maddie Tomaszewski ’11, and Hannah Cotier ’10, paid tribute to her life and her many accomplishments within film and the Emerson community. Friends and faculty shared memories of Kaskie. President Liebergott spoke, and a video showcasing footage of her younger years was presented by her high school, Glenbrook South, in Glenview, Illinois.
“Numerous people within the Visual and Media Arts department considered Grace one of the most promising film producers at Emerson. She had so much potential because she truly was more driven and talented than most students her age.”
Visual and Media Arts (VMA) Department faculty member Julia Gustafson was impressed by Kaskie’s strong ambition and work ethic in her film production class. “Numerous people within the VMA department considered Grace one of the most promising film producers at Emerson,” said Gustafson. “She had so much potential because she truly was more driven and talented than most students her age.” Gustafson showed a film montage created by Kaskie titled The Walk. Kaskie showed a unique interest in documentary filmmaking. Gustafson helped her get an internship in LA with Academy Award–nominated documentary filmmaker Renee Tajima-Pena, who said she was grateful for the experience of working with Kaskie.
Kaskie’s accomplishments at Emerson extended beyond the VMA department. She participated in Emerson’s Alternative Spring Break, where she spent the week helping homeless people in Immokalee, Florida. She also satisfied her love of physical fitness by running for the Women’s Cross Country team. Over the course of her two seasons with the team, she established herself as one of the top runners, helping lead the team to win the Women’s Great Northeast Athletic Conference Cross–Country Championship.
“Grace was one of those people everyone wanted to be around,” said John Furey, coach of the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams. “She brought a really fun energy to the team.”
In 2009, Kaskie’s passion for running led her to compete in the Boston Marathon with four other cross-country teammates. She finished the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes, averaging a 10-minute mile.
“Before the marathon, Grace gave me a T-pass and said, ‘Coach, keep this in your pocket and if I’m tired by mile 20, give me the T-pass’,” Furey jokingly added. “Of course, she finished the race. She was determined to get that silver blanket they give each runner at the finish line.”
The memorial concluded with a singing of “Amazing Grace” and the Kaskie family, including her father, Mike, her mother, Kate, and her sisters, Emily and Megan, thanked friends and faculty for their kind words and generosity.
After reflecting on the service, close friend Colleen Casey ’12 said she felt that it was an appropriate memorial for Kaskie.
“Nothing was ever negative with Grace. She was always so fun and positive,” she said. “It was a sad day, of course, but I’m just glad that her memorial was a celebration of her life and really reflected who she was and what she would’ve wanted.”