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.

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.”

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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.

[box]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.[/box]

“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.”

[box] 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 [/box]

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

About Katherine Blunt

Katherine Blunt, of Severna Park, Md., is a former News Editor for The Pendulum. She understands ...

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