Fordham Student Preparing for Life In City at Time of Tragic Death

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A Fordham University senior is being mourned and her life celebrated on two coasts after she died from a fall in a campus tower weeks before she was to graduate.

Sydney Monfries, 22, died April 14 from injuries sustained in a fall in Keating Clock tower on Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx.

A service was held April 22 at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem. Burial was in Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, in her hometown of Portland, Ore., and Fordham University held a memorial service for its community in the University Church and Terrace April 16.

Ms. Monfries, a graduate of Jesuit High School in Portland, was a journalism major. She had internships in New York with InStyle women’s fashion magazine, Creative Media Marketing Inc. and Noelle-Elaine Media Inc., and with the NBC television affiliate KGW in Portland, according to her LinkedIn page.

In one of her final public Facebook posts, Ms. Monfries asked friends in a Facebook birthday fund-raiser to contribute toward her goal of $200 for the Alzheimer’s Association. “I’ve chosen this nonprofit because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope you’ll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me,” she said in the Jan. 20 post, three days before her 22nd birthday.

She is survived by her father, Wayne; mother, Susan; and younger sister, Caitlyn.

“She loved her time here, and was looking forward to starting her life in New York,” Wayne Monfries said in an interview with Fordham News of the university’s communications office.

“She was giving and kind hearted. We’ve lost our daughter, but the world has lost a very special person.”

Ms. Monfries was climbing the clock tower stairs with other students at about 3 a.m. when she fell through an opening. Police reported to the scene shortly after receiving 911 call to find Ms. Monfries unconscious with head and body trauma. She was transported to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, where she died from her injuries.

The university’s communications office told CNY that Ms. Monfries fell approximately 30 feet inside the tower, and there have been no other falls in or from Keating Clock tower, which contains a clock and a water tank for firefighting. The university was investigating how the students gained access to the building, which is locked at night, and tower, which is always locked.

“Our hearts go out to Sydney’s parents, and her family and friends—theirs is an unimaginable loss, and we share their grief. There are no words sufficient to describe the loss of someone so young and full of promise—and mere weeks from graduation,” said Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, in announcing Ms. Monfries death to the Fordham community.

Father McShane said the university will present Monfries’ bachelor’s degree posthumously to her parents “at the appropriate time.”

The university offered support to its students through its counseling center and campus ministry on its Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses.

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