“She burned too bright for this world.”
For those lucky enough to have known Jen, this story, combined with personal memories, simply reminds us of how special she was. For those who did not have the pleasure of knowing Jen, you will read this and have doubt that anyone could be this perfect. But have faith that these words do not begin to do her justice.
The best way to appreciate Jen is to read her own words. Because Jen was a writer, we have the tremendous gift of reading her many articles, papers, and her personal blog. The following is an excerpt from her January 1, 2014 blog, where she discusses her New Year’s resolutions. Keep in mind that these were her goals even though she had her final year of college ahead of her. This is just one example showing her humor, intellect, caring nature, and incredible talent for writing.
“I would love to be that person who commits herself to a rigorous exercise program and diet, but then again I would like to be best friends with Jennifer Lawrence so we’ll see. Then there are the goals I think of as “cleansing” or “perfecting”. You know, those goals you strive for in order to become that one friend you have who seems to have their life together in such perfection that you almost want to hate them, but can’t because she’s so freaking nice. I want to read 50 novels next year – and not just bargain romantic comedies I picked up in the used section, but hard cover, 1,000 page classics that will make others notice when I reference them. I want to do yoga every week and find that inner peace people tell me is real, but which I have yet to find. I want to volunteer at a local food pantry, animal shelter, elementary school – really I’d just like to solve all the world’s problems.”
Jen’s life had a theme of not just accomplishing tasks, but far exceeding the expectations. Jen applied a loving, over-achieving sense of character toward absolutely every aspect of her life. When she loved someone, or something, she never settled for mediocrity - she took it to the highest level. If we tell you that Jen loved to read, you may think, “Oh, I like to read too.” No. Jen was obsessed with reading. When Jen was younger she had to write a poem about her favorite place. Her favorite place was in a book. Her favorite authors were Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontee, John Green, and J.K. Rowling to name only a few. She actually met J.K. Rowling and received a treasured letter from her.
Jen loved her room because her books surrounded her. Jen has an entry in her blog where she describes her love for books:
"I love books from libraries, with the dog eared pages that make you wonder how another patron could have possibly left Elizabeth Bennet in the midst of a conversation with none other than Mr. Darcy. I love books from used bookstores that, despite a stain from a cup of coffee here and there, have stories beyond the typed words their pages offer up, of the journey they once took with a reader and how they came to part with the original recipient. At the same time, I love brand new books, with their fresh smell and the crack of the binding as you reach the abrupt twist in the plot. I love opening the box with Amazon’s knowing smile, freshly arrived at the dorm’s mail room or my own front door."
Her passion for reading influenced so many other aspects of her life. They helped her to be an amazing student and her books inspired her to be the best at everything she did.
Everyone goes to high school, but Jen went above and beyond. She took more AP classes than one person should be able to handle. She was in the top of her class, a member of the National Honor Society, and Editor of the school's literary magazine. She was not just on the yearbook staff, she was Editor in Chief. She studied hard and had incredible SAT scores. She also found time to work – can you guess where? The library of course!
Her amazing grades allowed her to be accepted at Boston University. She was so excited to get into such a great school and live in the city. Jen being Jen… she got a double major in English and Journalism and finished in December 2014 after just three and a half years. She didn’t just sit in her room and study. She had several internships at media outlets in Boston. She did volunteer work. Jen actually took the T across the city to Somerville to play bingo with senior citizens. Really! She also worked on Newbury Street at a cupcake shop called “Sweet”.
Jen loved living in Boston! This is how she described her love of the city after being home for Christmas break:
“I miss school. I miss school a lot. Now, it’s not that I don’t like my small hometown. If everyone has to be from somewhere, this is a pretty damn good place to call home. That being said, I miss Boston. I love being a walk away from anything – be it a friend’s apartment, a coffee shop, or the movies. I revel in setting my own schedule…I love being able to grab dinner with friends at the last minute. I love hosting Friends marathons with my roommate. I love meeting up to see the latest Doctor Who or just catch up over coffee. Yes, I’m even that person that loves going for a run on the Esplanade when it’s above freezing temperatures and stopping to take endless panorama photos of the city. Sometimes I just get the urge to throw on shoes, replay an old Jack Johnson album or Nerdist podcast, and just walk down Beacon Street to the Common.”
Jen took up knitting while in college. You may think, “Oh, that is a nice hobby”. No. Jen was the president of the Knitting Club at BU. Her knitting was amazing. She knit baby blankets for her new cousins, beautiful scarfs and hats. She knit a scarf in Harry Potter's Gryffindor colors that was literally six feet long.
Maybe this is a good point to talk about Harry Potter. To say she loved Harry Potter is an understatement. She read the books multiple times. She drove to New York to see Daniel Radcliffe in a musical and had a book autographed by J.K. Rowling. She went to the Harry Potter studio tour in London. And, of course, Jen joined the quidditch team at BU.
In the books, the headmaster of hogwarts is Dumbledore, and the students rally around him to create a group called “Dumbledore’s Army”. When Jen was a freshman, a chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance called “Dumbledore’s Army” was formed so naturally Jen joined and was the vice president. It was through this group that she did much of her volunteer work. She also shared her love for Harry Potter by reading the books to her little brother. Jen was not just entertained by the books – the lessons of love and friendship, and the idea that it was okay to be nerdy, like the overachieving Hermione, truly inspired her and helped her to define herself.
Jen not only loved British authors, she loved all things British. She set her alarm to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. She loved Downton Abbey and would have tea parties on the day of the season premiere. She lived out her dream of visiting London, as she was able to study abroad for her final semester.
While she may have loved “The Princess Diaries” and “Say Yes to the Dress!” don’t be fooled that she wasn’t adventurous. She could camp in the wilderness and canoe 100 miles down the Allagash River with her Dad, brother, and cousins. The trip may have lasted a week, but the kids’ memories will last a lifetime.
During her college years, Jen found a love for running. Most people would take a nice jog near the Charles River. Of course that wasn’t enough for Jen… she trained and ran a half marathon.
Her accomplishments were certainly outstanding, but it was her relationships and loving ways that set her apart.
We should all be so blessed to have just one friend like Jen. To quote Harry Potter, she was a “fierce friend”. She was kind, considerate, funny, and loyal. Her friends could always be their true selves when they were together.
Here are some quotes from her friends:
“Jen made me feel comfortable and she taught me to feel good about myself. She was nice to everyone. She was honest, kind, witty and genuine.”
“Jen is now up there sipping tea with Jane Austen. Jane Austen is probably so impressed with her right now.”
“ We could talk about fine men and even finer literature”.
Finally, family. Jen was a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin. All of these roles were so important to her. Her kindness showed in every relationship she had. The fact that she never made a bad choice and was so responsible, allowed her relationship with her parents to be loving, fun, warm and stress-free. As a sister, she wanted to share her passions, encourage, and just have fun with her younger brother TJ. She read to him more than most parents read to their kids. She was a true friend to her brother Joe. Jen loved spending the holidays with her large family and lots of cousins. They all loved her wit, genuineness, and were amazed by her clear sense of purpose at such a young age. She was deeply loved, and is so deeply missed.
After going through all of her accomplishments, the most admirable quality about Jen is not one that can be discovered just by looking at the clubs she was in, or the grades she received- it can be seen by looking at her heart. It was Jen’s down-to-earth motives that made her so unique. She didn’t live her life to be popular. She didn’t look for awards or recognition. Her goals were not to make money. She was completely comfortable with who she was. She did everything that she did, because she truly loved it. She was happiest when being her true self, and she would encourage others to “Just Be You”.