Members of the Emerson community gathered in the Little Building’s Judee performance space on Wednesday, Oct. 11, to remember Sammi Neves ’24, who died in August.
“In my faith tradition, we talk about ‘memory eternal,’ we talk about the importance of keeping a person’s memory alive,” said Andrea Popa, Director of International Students, who worked with Sammi, a student from Brazil. “So I remember Sammi as a content creator, a fierce advocate for free speech, an international student with global impact, and a student who aspired to make a difference.”
Sammi was a Marketing Communication major who was planning to spend the Fall 2023 semester as an exchange student at Franklin University in Lugano, Switzerland, Popa said. On the Emerson campus, he was involved with WEBN News, the debate team, the Berkeley Beacon, and Emerson Hillel, and was president of the Emerson chapter of Turning Point USA.
Professor Nejem Raheem, chair of the Marketing Communication Department, said that working with Sammi was both “challenging and deeply rewarding. And sometimes those two things travel together.”
The faculty/student relationship he and Sammi built taught him a couple of things, Raheem said.
“Sammi taught me that all of us here have to keep connecting with folks in our community … and in some ways, it’s all we’re here for, right? And that differences just make that more important,” he said.
Julie Avis Rogers, Campus Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life, invited attendees to light a candle and share a reflection inspired by the gathering. Classmates of Sammi came forward to remember him as “brave,” “a fighter,” with “convictions and passions,” and “even in something as miserable as politics, the joy he took in being an activist and fighting for what he believed in.”
Amy Rinaldo, Associate Director of English Language Learning, recalled an international student conversation event last year that Sammi attended.
“I just have this vivid recollection of the way he connected with every single other person there, and the warmth and the compassionate communication that he shared with all the other students, and that he seemed to really want to get to know them,” she said.
Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Chris Daly, who earlier in the gathering read “The Guest House,” a poem by 13th-century theologian and scholar Rumi, lit a candle for those members of the Emerson community who, like Sammi, challenge the status quo and “push us out of the comfort zone.”
“In honor of Sammi, I welcome all those folks and hope they will continue to be a presence here and continue to fight to be here, because it helps all of us know what we think and know what we believe better,” Daly said.