The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Remembering Christopher Elvin Jr.

<p>Christopher Elvin Jr.</p>

Christopher Elvin Jr.

Just before winter break last semester, sophomore Genice Thomas texted Christopher Elvin Jr. in the middle of the night to ask if he wanted to watch a meteor shower.

She had missed her friends’ planned gathering for the event, and her roommate had already gone home for the break. But when she told Elvin that she still wanted to see the shower, he showed up well after midnight on his scooter to watch it with her.

“He would be the kind of person that would drop what he was doing to come help you,” Thomas said. “And I think that type of dedication to your friends, or family or people you love? That’s something that you have to hold onto and treasure because now, people don’t make themselves available like that, which is understandable, but he really did.”

Thomas describes that night as her favorite memory with Elvin, whom she met during orientation during her first week at the University of Richmond. They spent hours talking on the gazebo over Westhampton Lake while they watched the skies for meteors and shooting stars, and Elvin tried to teach her how to use his scooter.

“I feel like in everything he did, he would show his care for you and his compassion, his love for your relationship,” Thomas said. “He just really expressed his emotions in, like, everything that he did, and I think that just showed me he’s a genuine person.”

Elvin was a sophomore at UR, from Newark, New Jersey. He was a business administration major with a minor in Chinese studies. He was also the president of West Indian Lynk, UR's Caribbean culture club, as well as a member of the Spidermonkeys, UR's club ultimate frisbee team.

Between his academics and extracurricular activities, Elvin was undoubtedly busy, but friends say that he always seemed to make time to support and care for the people around him. 

Following his death on March 21, Elvin’s ultimate frisbee teammates expressed admiration for his dedication to his friendships and his ability to make those around him feel cared for.

“He knew how to make conversations meaningful, and he had a way of making you feel seen and loved,” wrote sophomore Sassan Fahim in a statement to The Collegian. “He was so authentic and never shied away from himself. Every moment with him was enjoyable and meaningful.”

“His laugh was contagious and he always carried such a positive energy around with him every day,” wrote Spidermonkeys team captain, senior Henry Groves. “Despite him being two years younger, I looked up to Chris for many of these reasons. He knew how to bring others joy and did exactly that every day. I am lucky to have called him a friend.”

Elvin joined the Spidermonkeys during his first year at UR, having never played ultimate frisbee before, but according to his teammates, he became a key part of the team not only because of his athleticism but also because of his positive energy.

“Last year at nationals, he literally made unique handshakes for every starting player before the point started that he’d rehearse with them,” wrote senior Ethan Greeley in an email to The Collegian. “He added so much to our team culture, and he was such a down-to-earth guy. You could talk to him about literally anything, and it would go from a few sentences to a 30-minute conversation. He was an incredible teammate and an even better friend.”

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“Anyone who was lucky enough to know Chris will tell you how vibrant his presence was,” wrote sophomore Anthony Longo, one of Elvin’s ultimate frisbee teammates. “He never failed to uplift others and brought an incredible energy to our team. Chris was one of the most genuine, caring people I have ever met and I am grateful to have had him as my teammate and friend.”

Thomas attributed this warmth to Elvin’s passion for learning. 

“Not just in an academic sense, but cultural, social—learning his family members better, learning his friends better,” she said. “He would always check on people out of random. ‘Are you okay? Are you good? Do you need anything?’ People would always come to him for help.”

Associate professor of Chinese studies Jessica Chan also commented on Elvin's love for learning and his work ethic in the recommendation letter that she wrote for his application to a summer study abroad program in Taiwan last year, to which he was ultimately accepted with a scholarship.

"Although his vocabulary is richer than his classmates, Chris was never complacent and remained humble in the classroom," Chan wrote. "Chris’s presence in the classroom, as well as his outstanding performance as a freshman, reminds me of what a scholarship means – an educational opportunity, an equalizer, and a transformative experience."

Assistant professor of accounting Robert Pawlewicz, who served as Elvin's academic advisor until he declared his major, also emphasized the positive energy that Elvin brought to academic settings.

"I am not embarrassed to say that he was one of my favorite students on campus. He was bright, funny, thoughtful, and creative and we were lucky to have him with us for as long as we did," Pawlewicz wrote in an email to The Collegian. "With his warm smile and self-deprecating humor, he made our advising meetings events that I looked forward to. Chris was a gem of a person and I miss him tremendously."

Thomas says that she hopes people continue to reflect and share stories about Elvin to keep his memory alive.

“A lot of people really miss him,” she said. “I miss him, and it’s just, like, the small things: his smiles, his outfits, to see him through campus. I really still can’t believe he’s not here anymore.”

“I know it’s really hard for a lot of us right now,” Thomas continued. “But I just know him. Like, he really would hate to see us cry, so that’s why I try, really, my best to just think about all the good memories we had.”

Elvin's funeral service will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 13 at New Hope Baptist Church in East Orange, New Jersey. An on-campus memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on April 27 in the Camp Concert Hall.

Contact executive editor Kelsey McCabe at kelsey.mccabe@richmond.edu.

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