Fordham Remembers FCLC Junior, Hayden Hartnett

Published: March 2, 2011

“Hayden was a shooting star,” Tanner Hartnett said about her younger sister, Hayden Hartnett, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’12, who died in her dorm room on Feb. 20. “[She was] someone who came into our lives only for a brief period of time, but one who lit up the lives of everyone she met.”

Hayden Hartnett, FCLC ’12, trained and ran a half marathon in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her uncle earlier this year. (Courtesy of Hayden Hartnett’s Facebook)

Although the news of Hartnett’s death was tragic for the Fordham community, friends and family of the 21-year-old from Dallas, Texas remember her as vibrant, unique and filled with talent. A visual arts major with a focus in photography, Hartnett had a passion for friends and the arts, and according to her loved ones, she was driven to try new things.

“She loved to get out with her camera and take pictures,” Luca Vescovi, FCLC ’12, said. “She was somebody who found enjoyment in the smallest things.”

Prior to her death, Hartnett had recently taken a two-week long trip to Tokyo, Japan to study photography.

“She loved visual and graphic art,” her father, Jim Hartnett said. “She was fine photographer and loved to draw and create things.”

Hartnett’s interests spanned more than just photography. She was a competitive diver in high school, enjoyed playing musical instruments and had trained for a marathon.

“I always looked at Hayden as the prodigy child,” Tanner Hartnett, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’10, said. “She was good at literally everything. She was good at the piano and the harp, art, gymnastics, board games and photography.”

“If she put her mind to something, she was going to do it,” Hartnett’s aunt, Ellen Crim, said. “She wanted to run a half marathon, so she planned, trained and completed the Philadelphia Half Marathon last November.”

Another of Hartnett’s aunts, Melinda Hartnett, attested to her tenacity. “She was very determined from the day she was born,” she said. “If she wanted to accomplish something, she was going to, regardless of what anyone else said.”

Almost everyone who knew Hartnett mentioned her contagious smile as one of her most memorable qualities.

“Hayden was a beautiful, funny, remarkably talented woman,” Jim Hartnett said. “She had a mega-watt smile that was on her face frequently. She loved to laugh.”

“She was one of those rare people who could light up a room with her smile,” Max Fortin, FCLC ’12, said.

David Bartlett, a friend who attends New York University, said, “You could be having the worst day of your life and all you’d have to do is see her smile and the weight of that day would dissolve.”

Hartnett will also be remembered for her incredible wit and upbeat spirit. Although her primary passion was photography, she had begun studying for the LSAT prior to her death.

“She had a really quick wit,” Jim Hartnett said.  “As a trial lawyer, I’m in the courtroom with people who are best at thinking on their feet. Nobody I’ve met could think faster on their feet than Hayden could. She really had mental and verbal agility.”

Marko Konte, FCLC ’12, said, “Whether it was with her beauty or incredible wit which no one could upstage, her gift was captivating anyone who was in her vicinity. But while saying this, it is truly impossible to put into words how luminous of a presence she was.”

While at Fordham, Hartnett had made a number of friends who say they will never forget her energy and the lasting impact she made on their lives.

“She was so much fun to be around, and I knew I could count on her to cheer me up when I was having a rough day,” Caitlin Docherty, FCLC ’12, said. “I was so lucky to be able to call her my friend.”

Bartlett said, “If you were a friend to her, you were the most important thing in her life and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for those she loved.”

Most of Hartnett’s friends recalled her passion, even for simple pleasures like food.

“She and I both love banana pudding,” Chelsea McLaughlin, FCLC ’12, said. “Her favorite was from Magnolia Bakery. She was raving about it. She told me about how she and her friends would buy this big tub and just go at it.”

“She was the only girl I ever met who would be painting her fingernails one minute, only to come down and polish off an insulting amount of buffalo wings with the boys the next,” Konte said.

According to family members, Hartnett had struggled with depression before her death, but it didn’t define who she was.

“Hayden suffered fleeting moments of depression—most of her life was happy,” Jim Hartnett said.

“You need to know that everything possible was done for her, but there are some things about depression that we don’t know and can’t always control,” Crim said. “Hayden knew her family and friends loved her unconditionally and I truly think that her heart was fighting what her mind was doing to her.”

Despite these struggles, Hartnett’s friends and family characterized her life as full and unforgettable, with a vibrancy that extended to others.

“If Hayden was happy, everyone around her was happy,” Fortin said. “Fordham truly did lose one of their best and brightest in Hayden.”