Calvin community mourns sophomore student


Photo Courtesy of Karen Saupe

Andrew Prezioso worked at Camp Mowana in his home state of Ohio

Ask people what they remember about Andrew Prezioso, the Calvin sophomore who died last week, and they will tell you about his laugh. Bright, infectious, distinctive and loud, he seemed to light up every room he was in. 

While on the New England Saints interim trip, Prezioso took his own life. According to a campus-wide email from Calvin University President Michael Le Roy, Prezioso was last seen in the group’s hotel on the night of Wednesday, January 15. The Concord, Massachusetts Police Department found his body the following day. University Chaplain Mary Hulst flew to Concord to counsel students and professors on the trip.

Following Prezioso’s death, his absence is felt throughout campus: from the engineering department, to the Rhetoric Center, to the Gospel Choir, to his dorm Beets-Veenstra where he was a Barnabas. According to English Professor and Rhetoric Center Director Karen Saupe, Prezioso was so multidimensional that she believed most people who knew him didn’t know the full scope of his interests.

Saupe knew Prezioso since he was a child at Camp Mowana in his home state of Ohio. Prezioso progressed from a camper to lifeguard, counselor, and program coordinator. He took great joy in his camp work, playing with the young campers and building benches for the camp as part of his Eagle Scout requirements.

Prezioso listed being an Eagle Scout as the accomplishment he was proudest of on his Barnabas application, according to Pastor Matt Postma. He carried his joy and dedication from camp into his work as a Barnabas. Even as a first-year student, he found a way to participate in many of the dorm worship nights, using his many musical talents. “He was on the piano, he was singing, he was leading… He was involved somehow, some way in every dorm worship,” Postma said.

Regardless of where he was, Prezioso seized every chance he was offered, according to Saupe who also had him as a student in a required literature class. “He took core courses as an opportunity rather than an obligation,” Saupe said. As a project for the course, he wrote a set of poems because he couldn’t do so in his engineering classes. Still, he still greatly enjoyed his STEM courses. Saupe recalled Prezioso’s enthusiasm for  the organic chemistry class he was taking. His enthusiasm struck her: first-year students don’t take organic chemistry (it’s too difficult), and no one, upperclassmen included, enjoys organic chemistry (it’s too difficult).

Prezioso’s love for learning did not end at the classroom door. His first-year roommate, sophomore Andrew Fabrizius, remembered long discussions with Prezioso about books, movies and music. Fabrizius misses the ability to “nerd-out” over topics like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars with him. Prezioso’s Barnabas and friend, junior Sam Sadjak, recalled Prezioso’s impressive Rubix Cube collection and how he patiently showed Sadjak how to solve the puzzles one evening. This engagement served him well as a Rhetoric Center consultant, a job that requires not just grammatical corrections but also teasing out a student’s voice from her or his writing. Prezioso could teach students how to use “less” or “fewer” correctly but went beyond that and could listen intently to the students he assisted said Postma and Saupe. 

This skill, alongside Presiozo’s strong faith, made Sadjak encourage Prezioso to become a Barnabas. On his application and in his interview, Prezioso cited growing up in a household of faith and watching his parents create a new service for his church in his hometown of Ashland, Ohio, as key in his faith formation. He listed on his application that he wanted every student at Calvin “to pursue Christ with a full heart” and that the Gospel to him was Christ’s “victory over death.”

According to an email from the Vice President of Student Life Sarah Visser, there will be a memorial service for Prezioso at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ashland, Ohio at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 25. Students can email Jay Wise at his Calvin email should they want to take the shuttle there. His family will host a reception for relatives and friends that same day from 5-8 p.m. Calvin will have a memorial service in the university chapel at 4 p.m. on February 10 with a reception to follow in the Spoelhof Atrium.

Both Visser and Postma encouraged the Calvin community to pray for Prezioso’s parents Pam and Donald, as well as his brother Michael.

Both the Center for Counseling and Wellness and Campus Ministries are offering support services for students at this time. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, call 1-616-455-9200 for the Psychiatric Urgent Care Center of Pine Rest in Grand Rapids or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.