FCRH Senior Dies Suddenly at 21



Donika Celaj, FCRH ’19 passed away unexpectedly.


On Feb. 21, Fordham College at Rose Hill senior Donika Celaj died of a “sudden illness” according to statement from University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. She often spelled her last name as “Cela.” She was born on Nov. 13, 1997, in Yonkers, New York, and was 21 years old when she died.

Celaj was a senior at Rose Hill and was majoring in psychology. She graduated from the David A. Stein Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy, a public middle and high school in Riverdale, Bronx, in 2015. She was a commuter student at Fordham and lived in an apartment in the Riverdale area.

Mac Psachie, Celaj’s AP Calculus teacher in high school, left a comment on Donika’s tribute wall. He wrote, “Donika was a beautiful, intelligent, empathetic, and sweet young woman. She was always helping people. She had a wonderful and outgoing personality.”

In correspondence with Fordham News, Dr. Mary Procidano, associate professor of psychology, said, “Donika was a reflective young woman who was finding her voice at Fordham. She was a valued presence in my class, and we all will miss her.”

Celaj’s friends spoke about how close she was with her family, and how excited she was to travel to Albania this summer to spend time with her cousins.

In an email sent to the Fordham community, McShane wrote, “the death of someone so young and full of life is profoundly painful, and a source of unspeakable sorrow and loss to everyone who knew her.”

Funeral services for Celaj were held on Feb. 25 at Pleasant Manor Funeral Home in Thornwood, New York.

Celaj is survived by her parents, Gzim and Ariana Celaj, and her brothers Fisnik and Lorik.