While most students were battling the back-to-school jitters, graduate student Princess Chinwendu Eke was going through three months of chemotherapy. A sufferer of sickle-cell disease, Eke had lived with the disease her entire life while maintaining a positive attitude.
“She would always give us motivation. Whenever we would argue she would say, ‘Now, everyone try and calm down and enjoy life,’” said philosophy senior and Zeta Phi Beta Epsilon Chapter member Stephanie Velasquez. “She was very kind-hearted and easy to talk to. She was a humble person. She was not only my sister, but a really good friend.”
The three months of chemotherapy was said to have been intense for Eke, Zeta Phi Beta President Jordan Hill said.
“She did lose her hair, she did take medication, and she lost a lot of weight,” Hill said. “She didn’t look like the Princess that we know, because she had always been very athletic.”
As a student of the Health and Human Performance Department, Eke was studying sports management and kinesiology.
She was always seen walking around campus with sweatpants on and a water bottle in hand, ready to begin her workouts each day.
She also taught cycling and racquetball classes at the Health and Wellness Center.
“She was very involved on campus as far as being healthy, being proactive,” Hill said. “The chemotherapy really did take her out, in a sense.”
In an attempt to save her life, her younger brother gave her his bone marrow for a transplant.
But the transplant was too tough on her body and she passed away Sept. 7.
“It was very, traumatic isn’t even a word I could use, I would have to say unbelievable,” Hill said.
Zeta Phi Beta is currently working on a foundation in Eke’s name to help bring awareness to the disease. They want her name to live on, and they hope that the foundation will help others support Eke’s family during this difficult time.
On Sept. 10, Zeta Phi Beta had a memorial service for Eke on campus.
“We had balloons and people could buy a balloon and put a message on it,” Velasquez said. “At the end of the memorial we let them go. That was a great moment… We watched the balloons going up. It was almost like they were going to her.”