Drew Remembers student and beloved friend

by Shaylyn MacKinnon

The Drew community was shocked the morning of Friday, Nov. 18, at the loss of a beloved friend and respected student. An email sent by President Baenninger at 3:06 p.m. informed students and faculty of the death of Cyprian Kundai Martin Marowa, a second year student in the Pathway program.

Kundai was born on Sept. 17, 1994, and came to Drew from Johannesburg, South Africa. Well-liked and involved in both the Men’s Rugby and Soccer club teams, Kundai touched the lives of many members in the Drew community.  In the days that followed his passing, Kundai’s Facebook feed was flooded with posts from confused and heartbroken friends. These posts, featuring images of Kundai always surrounded by groups of friends and teammates, described the deceased as having a “gentle soul” and remarked on his incredibly positive take on life. Though he was said to be a man of few words, many commented on how supportive he was of his friends and made clear that he is missed across the globe.

Harnoor Singh Oberoi (’19) described his friend to the Drew Acorn. “I don’t really know what to say, Kundai was one of my first mates here at Drew. We instantly clicked during orientation week because the topic of football (soccer) came up and we both had plenty to say. He supported the same team I do, Arsenal FC, and we watched almost all the games together (100+). We hung out everyday,” Oberoi explained, “he was simply the best. Athletic on the field, even though he made [half of the] rugby practices out of a million, he came on in one of the games in the second half, and scored three tries—a feat most students can’t achieve with three years of rugby playing here. He played soccer here as well and was often part of more than two teams.” Along with praising his athleticism, Oberoi explained how Kundai thrived in all areas of his life. “Smart, individual, had plenty to say about several topics. Although he may be guilty of being a little reserved, every time he conversed with me or anyone else, he had something good to say and always had a calm and confident presence. He reassured people about life and was there when I needed him. Other than that, he was extremely funny, active! Always listened to other people’s opinions and respected them.” Oberoi concluded with a story he remembered of his friend. “I remember this one time we had a pretty late Saturday night, and there was a soccer game the following morning. He was in my room, at ten in the morning, and I hadn’t played a single game up until that point—[I was not] even part of the club team. Still, he managed to get me off my bed and straight into the field. I was barely awake, but he energized me enough to play one half.”

Professor Sharon Sundue, Kundai’s academic advisor, described her impressions of Kundai from her time working with him. “Kundai was smart, kind, loyal and generous,” Sundue wrote, “a ‘gentle giant’ for those who loved him. He had so many friends from across nationalities, all of whom looked to him as a reassuring presence in their lives. Losing him is a tragedy – let’s find a way to emulate his best qualities to honor him.”

Dean Waldron told the Drew Acorn, “We are deeply saddened by Kundai’s death. His bright spirit touched so many people on our campus, and he will be greatly missed.” Waldron explained the university’s efforts in how to best help the Drew community come to terms with this unforeseen tragedy. “Many of the university were involved in the response to his family and friends and I want to make sure that students are aware of the resources for ongoing support,” Waldron explained, providing a list of what was done following the revelation of Kundai’s passing.

Counselors were provided in the residence hall lounges after the news of his death was announced. In addition, a campus-wide candlelight vigil was held in Kundai’s honor in HERB Circle the same night, hosted by the Men’s and Women’s Rugby teams, the Club Soccer team and Student Government with the help of Campus Life and Student Affairs. Students were able to remember Kundai together, sharing stories and supporting one another during and after the ceremony, as students were invited to the 1867 Lounge following the ceremony. The following day, the counseling center was staffed from 12-4 p.m. and INTO offices were open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. That same day a remembrance was held by former University Chaplain Tanya Bennet at the rugby scrimmage dedicated to Kundai. Students and team members were given notepaper and pens to write messages for Kundai’s family. Along with the messages, the family received a team photo with Kundai’s jersey. On the Tuesday following Kundai’s passing, INTO held a reception with the family in Tilghman house, many members of the Drew community taking their time to stop by. Kundai’s rugby jersey was presented to the family by members of the men’s team.

Drew University lost a kind and important member of its community two weeks ago, though Kundai’s memory will not be forgotten. As Oberoi said, “Kundai was such a great person. Always pushing people to do more.” Let us keep that in mind and continue moving forward with Kundai’s memory fueling us.

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