March 20, 2021

Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,

It is with deep sorrow that I write to let you know that Isabel Sanhueza, from the Class of 2023, passed away Thursday night at her home in New Haven. She was 24. We send our deepest condolences to Isabel’s mother and stepfather, Rebecca Sanhueza and Richard Behar, and to all who knew and loved her.

Isabel was a brilliant student who had just transferred to Conn from Gateway Community College in New Haven. She loved her new college and, although attending remotely, she was thriving here, with a perfect academic record that earned her not only dean’s high honors in her first semester but also, in her second, a coveted place as a scholar in the Holleran Center. A double major in anthropology and government, she was a talented thinker and writer, passionate about the intersection of scholarship, community action, and public policy. She had a dream of becoming a medical anthropologist, like her grandmother. Professor Ari Rotramel, who worked with her in the Center, witnessed firsthand her excitement to be part of a passionate group of Holleran scholars, and noted that Isabel had “already demonstrated that she viewed them as her colleagues and was excited to learn from them and support them. It was abundantly clear that she had the intelligence, maturity, and humility to become a strong leader for justice in our world. I am heartbroken that we have lost the opportunity to watch her grow, but I am thankful to have known her and will take with me her ability to bring hope and curiosity alongside grounded knowledge into her learning.”

Her anthropology adviser, Professor Joyce Bennett, described her “sophisticated understanding of how intersectionality and activism come together—so rare in a young person. She was the kind of student you want to talk to all the time, because she was not just learning from you but also pushing you to be a better mentor and teacher.”

Her government adviser, Professor Tristan Borer, put it simply: “Isabel was just so smart. She added immeasurably to our class discussions in two semesters on two very different topics. It was an honor and a privilege to know her, if only for a short while.”

Isabel was an active citizen in her life beyond school. She spent many hours volunteering at soup kitchens, nursing homes, and retirement facilities. In New Haven, she worked for a time for an organization called Musical Intervention that provided clients with access to musical instruments and recording equipment. She was a living example of our mission of putting the liberal arts into action. We grieve the loss of this beautiful young life, dedicated to the flourishing of others.

In this unprecedented year, filled with too much loss, please remember that there are many places to turn for support. Students who are on campus and need immediate support should call Campus Safety at (860) 439-2222, and they will, in turn, connect you with our on-call Student Life staff. Anyone needing help may also reach an off-site licensed professional clinician at no cost, in two different ways:

  • Counseling After Hours: Call the Student Counseling Services phone number (860-439-4587) and press option 2 or 3. This is a telephone-based mental health service that is available to all students in need of access to mental health support when Student Counseling Services is not open. This service provides students with access to an off-site counselor who will provide support during any evening, weekend or break.
  • My SSP (Student Support Program): Download the free My SSP App, available on the App Store or Google Play. Through the app, you can call or chat with a Student Support Counselor 24/7 in real-time or schedule a telephone or video session that fits your schedule. My SSP provides support in the event of a personal crisis and also connects students with providers, offering both short and long-term counseling. You may also call My SSP directly at 866-743-7732 (or from outside North America at 001-416-380-6578). The My SSP app offers a digital library of articles and videos that you may find helpful.

Our Counseling staff will be available for appointments next week. College employees should know, too, that they may speak to professional counselors any time of the day or night through the HigherEd Employee Assistance Program by calling 800-252-4555. Additional resources can be found at www.HigherEdEAP.com.

Isabel was a talented young woman of great integrity, intelligence, and promise. There will be an occasion to mark her life here at Connecticut College in the coming weeks and we will write again with more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please join me in extending our deepest sympathies to her family.

With empathy,

Katherine
Katherine Bergeron

President

Yours,
 
Katherine Bergeron
President