Breathing problems led to death of Elon sophomore

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Sophomore Jordan West died early Monday morning after developing difficulty breathing, according to an email from Smith Jackson, vice president and dean of Student Life. His roommates called 911 just before 3 a.m. and he was taken to Alamance Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

Sophomore Jordan West. Image courtesy of University Communications.

His friend, sophomore Marcus Brown, said he believes the breathing difficulties may have arisen from a preexisting heart condition that West kept somewhat private.

“I knew about the heart condition, but I didn’t know it would pan out (this way) so soon,” he said. “When we played basketball, he couldn’t play as hard as everyone else.”

But the condition didn’t affect his love of sports, which he played and watched regularly, according to sophomore Mark Holmes.

“We always watched Eagles games at Varsity,” he said. “He was always there early. You could always count on seeing him there, right before the game, (wearing) an Eagles jersey.”

According to the email, West was majoring in marketing. His loss will be felt by professors in the business school, said Alexander Yap, associate professor of management information systems.

“This is a big loss,” Yap said. “I was always impressed with Jordan’s ability to work independently. He always tried to solve problems on his own, and I was always surprised at the good work he turned over without my help. He was one of the best speakers in my class with the way he delivered his presentations spontaneously and the way he projected his voice.”

Holmes said he will greatly miss West’s presence in his Management Information Systems class.

“I could always count on his help (in class), and I always had someone to sit with,” he said. “Going back to that class and looking right and knowing he won’t be there — that’s what gets me.”

Amy Moorman, who taught West in Business Law, is also preparing herself for West’s vacant seat.

“It will be extremely difficult to see his empty chair in the front row of my class (Tuesday),” she said.

The last time Moorman saw West was during his team presentation on business ethics. She said her complimentary notes from the presentation, which described West as “heartfelt,” reflect how well she perceived him. Unlike many of her students, West never needed assistance to succeed in her notoriously tough class, Moorman said.

What: Gathering of friends for West
When: 4:30 p.m. May 2
Where: Moseley 215
For support: Call Counseling Services at 336-278-7280 and the Truitt Center at 336-278-7729. Counselors are also available after hours by calling Campus Safety and Police at 336-278-5555.

“While always friendly and respectful, he quietly went about the business of succeeding in business law without fret — no small feat, as my students will you tell you,” she said.

He demonstrated consistent success and was honored at the Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards April 28. His family attended the ceremony.

“It must be so hard for his family,” Holmes said. “They just saw him receive (the award) Saturday, and now they have to come back. At least they saw him at his best.”

West’s perseverance and academic success is an inspiration, Holmes said.

“I want to be able to go through all my problems and win a (Black Excellence Award) like he did,” he said. “He was a great kid.”

West left an impression on those who had only known him briefly. Sharon Hodge, chair of the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, said although she had not known West for very long, she thought very highly of him.

“He truly had a wonderful and gentle spirit about him,” Hodge said. “He will be missed.”

But, the loss motivates his friends to action.

“We can’t just sit around and shed tears,” Holmes said. “We have to share stories of the people we love.”

The full text of Jackson’s email: 

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you of the death of sophomore Jordan West. Jordan died unexpectedly this morning after developing breathing problems in his room at the Crest apartments. His roommates called 911 just before 3 a.m., and paramedics rushed Jordan to Alamance Regional Medical Center where he passed away.

Jordan was the son of Sharon and Hayward West of Williamstown, N.J. He was a marketing major and was among those honored last Saturday at the Phillips-Perry Black Excellence Awards.

The death of a student is devastating to our community and we want to reach out to friends and acquaintances who knew Jordan. Elon’s counseling and religious life staff are available as we begin the grieving process. Moseley Center 215 will be open today between 2 and 4 p.m. as a space for community members to informally drop by and gather. Staff from Counseling Services and the Truitt Center will be present and available as needed. During other times, anyone who would like to talk about their deep feelings of loss or concern for others may contact Counseling Services at 278-7280 or the Truitt Center at 278-7729. Counselors are available after hours on call by contacting Campus Safety and Police at 278-5555.  Later today the time and place will be communicated to the campus of a more formal Gathering of Friends so those who knew Jordan can gather to mourn his passing and celebrate his life.

Smith Jackson
Vice President for Student Life
Dean of Students
Elon University

Stay with The Pendulum for more information as it becomes available.

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  • MALYK

    My name is Malyk Ellis, I am an 9yr old in third grade at Elon Elementary student that Jordan worked with, he helped me with my homework, he played with me, he meant so much to me, he was my best friend and I am really sad that I will not ever get to spend time with him again but my Mom is going to make me a locket with his picture in it and he will always be close to my heart <3 I will pray everyday! I am really sad for his family and all of his friends and I don't want to go to school tomorrow but I will, Loseing him is a big loss! He told me a few days ago that his back hurt and I wish here was something I could do and now he is gone but I will never forget him he was the nicest friend that I could ever have had! I am really sad:( Pray for me as I pray for you!

    • http://twitter.com/jeff_stern Jeff Stern

      Malyk, thank you for sharing. This must be really hard for you but you sound like a strong, brave nine-year old. I will pray for you.

    • Recee816

      Praying for you Malyk!!! Thank you for sharing how Jordan touched your life. He really was FUN and AMAZING and such a great best friend.

  • Keith Johnson

    Jordan West will be missed. God bless you Jordan. Praying for you and your family. Jordan is survivied by his mother and father (Mr. & Mrs. West) and his brother (Christian) who is a senior at Northwestern University.

  • Hayward West

    I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. We loved Jordan very much and always knew he was a special person. He always wanted to help others. Especially those in great need. He spent the past four summers as a camp counselor for children with disabilities. He could relate to their struggle. Jordan lived with Sickle Cell Anemia, a blood disorder that effects red blood cells. He did not have a heart problem. Being anemic affected his endurance but he strived to compete. I loved his fighting spirit. Please take time to learn about Sickle Cell Disease. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia(CHOP) is close to developing a cure and could use your donation!!! If you were touch by Jordan and are able, then please make a donation is his name. Thank you to the Elon community for embracing my son. God Bless you all.

  • Taron

    I’ve just learned of the passing of Jordan and I want to offer my condolences to his family. I worked with Jordan at camp where he was know as King Jordan by both campers and counselors. May he Rest In Peace.

  • Sk629719

    Dragonfly won’t be the same without you Jordan. You were always one of the best counselors, and I was lucky to have shared the past 3 yrs with you. Even though you didn’t like getting in the pool, I knew I could always count on you to be the first one in, involving all of the kids and making sure they all had the time of their lives. Thanks for all of the memories

  • Ragansue

    My name is Sue and I work in the Bread Basket at the Colonnades. I am so sad to hear news of Jordan’s passing. He was a sweet young man. Always sat at same table everyday, always had a smile and a hello for us each time he was there. I will miss him very much. I know he is resting in God’s arms. To his family we all loved him and you are in my Prayers. May God wrap His loving arms around each of you with comfort. To students do as Jordan would want and remember the good times and keep going. He is with you always.

    God Bless You All

  • Kacy

    hi my name is kacy i go to elon elem im in thrid grade he hepled me with math and centers. he was the nicest person. he put smiles on our faces .when i heard about it i cryed right away it is sad hearing that someone ryou eally nice died.i pray for him evrey night. im sorry if you new him really well. please pray for me as i pray for you.

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