Note: Corrections were made to this story, which previously claimed Sengoba moved to the U.K. with his girlfriend of the time. New sources indicate that this is false.
Candlelight illuminated the chapel Monday evening during a prayer vigil for Alexander Sengoba.
On Sunday, Nov. 9, a campus-wide email informed students that Alexander Sengoba, a fellow Pirate, had passed away. It appears that he committed suicide, although at the time of print, the autopsy results had not been released.
Family, friends and acquaintances of Sengoba gathered to pay their respects during a prayer vigil on Monday night. Soft music filled Seeley G. Mudd Chapel while students and faculty prayed in groups, individually or with AWAKE ministry members. A table with pens and paper was available for mourners to write notes or prayers.
A memorial service was held on Tuesday, Nov. 11, to honor Alex’s life. President Beck Taylor welcomed the family and friends of Alex.
Friends of Alex shared personal reflections and stories about their interactions with him. All three speakers—senior Jade Faletoi, alumnus Jack Dunbar and sophomore Christian Sicairos—said Alex was a kind, caring friend.
“He just had a pureness and joy,” Sicairos said. “You could just feel his joy.”
Sengoba could be found playing basketball in the University Recreation Center, attending prime times or joking with friends. Whatever he did, he was always smiling, his friends said.
“Everybody needs a friend and Alex knew that,” Dunbar said.
Sengoba originally enrolled at Whitworth in 2009 with the class of 2013. The following year, he joined the U.S. military. After his service, he returned to Whitworth in the fall of 2014 to finish his education.
Faletoi met Sengoba in one of her night classes this year. He was a reserved student but always polite, she said.
“When he was late to class he said sorry and he meant it. He always took responsibility for his stuff,” she said.
Sengoba was majoring in psychology. He loved to play basketball and met many people through pick-up games and shooting baskets.
“He asked people ‘How are you?’ and he meant it,” Dunbar said. “He was committed to being a friend to people.”
Reactions from friends, family and peers clearly express how much Alex will be missed. When a member of the body suffers, we all suffer, Reverend Mindy Smith said during the memorial service. Smith lead the homily and prayer of dedication.
Alex’s father, Emmanuel Sengoba, flew up from his home in Irvine, California to attend the service on Tuesday. He expressed his appreciation for Whitworth’s support, saying he now had a good report to relay to the rest of Alex’s family.
“I can go and tell them I received some very good words about Alex,” he said. “I think that will help in the grief; that they know he was loved.”
A student success coach had been working with Sengoba before he passed away.
“Things had been going well,” Student Success Advocate Landon Crecelius said of Sengoba’s counseling. “That’s why this is so shocking.”
Katie Shaw and Rebekah Bresee
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