The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Silly Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

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April 1, 2024
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Remembering Luke Santos, 20

Santos is remembered for his curiosity, hardworking nature and eagerness to help others
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COURTESY OF FORDHAM NEWS
‘He’s Such a Light’ Student With a Penchant for Public Service Dies at 20

Luke Santos, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’26  and an economics student who was remembered for his passion for politics, inquisitiveness and kindness, died on Tuesday Feb. 20 in New York, New York; he was 20 years old. The cause of death was undisclosed. 

The following day on Feb. 21, University President Tania Tetlow sent an email to the Fordham community regarding Santos’ passing. 

“We will forever hold Luke’s memory in our hearts,” Tetlow wrote. “We pray hard for Luke’s family and friends who are grieving right now at this terrible tragedy.”

“He was such a ‘smartie,’ constantly participating, it blew my mind, he had such a knowledge of politics and was so respectful of everyone’s opinions at the same time,”Olwyn Voss, FCRH ’24

Born on April 4, 2003, in Newton, Massachusetts to Albertino Santos and Allison Bailey, Santos graduated from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2021. He studied economics at FCRH and was heavily involved in politics at both the local and national levels. According to an obituary from Keefe Funeral Home, Santos had been interested in politics since the age of 14. 

His passion for life and service led him into organized politics after an 8th grade field trip to the Massachusetts State House sparked his interest, drawing him to have his own personal business cards printed, don his suit and tie, and venture back to the State House on his own to introduce himself to whomever he could,” the obituary stated. 

By the age of 20, Santos had worked on numerous political campaigns and was heavily involved with the Massachusetts Democratic Party. In 2018, Santos assisted in the planning and execution of the Democratic State Convention as well as the statewide coordinated campaign. 

Santos’ friends reflect on fond memories they shared. (COURTESY OF FORDHAM NEWS)

Steve Kerrigan, chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, spoke fondly of his experience working with Santos. 

“Luke was full of energy, bounding through life with a relentless drive and curiosity,” he said. “Luke brightened the room and the lives of so many during his time not just at MassDems, but also on the campaigns of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Mayor Marc McGovern, Sam Gebru and so many others.”

Santos’ dedication to public service was especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an obituary from Cambridge Day, Santos founded the Mask Up project, a volunteer group of Cambridge High School students who organized the creation of over 800 face masks from recycled fabric. The group distributed them at no cost to local shelters, organizations and residents. 

“He was always someone you wanted to have your back, you wanted to have him in your corner, he was just so amazing,”Olwyn Voss, FCRH ’24

Moving to New York City did not prevent Santos from continuing his work in politics. Upon arrival at Fordham, he immediately began contributing to Christopher Bae and New York City Council Members (NYCC) Julie Won of District 26 and Yusef Salaam of District 9’s NYCC campaigns. 

Olwyn Voss, FCRH ’24, said that she first met Santos at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in a women, gender and sexuality studies class, where he was the only man in a class of women. 

“He was such a ‘smartie,’ constantly participating, it blew my mind, he had such a knowledge of politics and was so respectful of everyone’s opinions at the same time,” Voss said.

The two re-met in a chance encounter on the Metro-North, where they rekindled their friendship. 

Voss also recalled the joy Santos exuded during a ski trip they embarked on alongside her younger sister this past winter break in New Hampshire.

“That’s something I hold on to a lot when I’m remembering him because he just seemed so free and so happy,” she said.

In reflecting on Santos’ character, Voss described him as “such a light,” as well as a deeply educated individual who was always willing to stand up for people. 

“He was just so caring, loving, passionate and protective toward his friends. He always made everyone feel super comfortable and was always someone you could talk to and rant about random stuff.”Sophia Stryjewski, FCRH ’25

She cited a specific experience in which she, Santos and a group of people were discussing a delicate subject, during which a participant had said something insensitive and Santos had stepped in to correct them. Voss explained that this incident followed a pattern of Santos educating people in a non-demeaning manner. 

“He was always someone you wanted to have your back, you wanted to have him in your corner, he was just so amazing,” she said. 

Voss added that Santos “never had a bad bone in his body,” and effused kindness. She noted that he inspired her to work hard, even during difficult times. Voss also remembered first hearing about his passing and the wave of intense grieving she experienced in the aftermath which she overcame by drawing upon Santos’ reaction to her state, and his desire to see her succeed. 

“I know he is cheering me on and carrying on all his friends and family,” she said. “I think about that and it brings me a lot of peace and comfort.”

Santos was admired for his intelligence and dedication to politics.
(COURTESY OF FORDHAM NEWS)

Sophia Stryjewski, FCRH ’25, said that she considered Santos to be one of her best friends. She shared that the two met through a mutual friend from a math class during her first year at Fordham and recalled his affinity for bursting out into musical numbers specifically,  Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” 

Stryjewski remembered Santos’ approachable and protective energy toward those he loved. 

“He was just so caring, loving, passionate and protective toward his friends,” she said. “He always made everyone feel super comfortable and was always someone you could talk to and rant about random stuff,” she said. 

She added that after she would get off her shift at late hours of the night, or passed dark, Santos would pick her up from campus and walk her home to her apartment safely. 

He is survived by his parents; stepfather Joseph Francis Audette; grandparents Rita and Gary Bailey, Alicia Santos; along with many of his aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and mentors.  

A memorial service was held at the Fordham Rose Hill campus on Feb. 28. Santos’ wake and funeral service was held on March 1 in Boston, Massachusetts. His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, gifts in Santos’ memory may be made to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center. 



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About the Contributors
MEGAN YERRABELLI, Assistant News Editor
INSIYA GANDHI, News Editor
Insiya Gandhi (she/her), FCLC ’24, is a news editor at The Observer. She is a sociology major and a political science minor. Her most fulfilling moments at The Observer have been developing and strengthening relationships with fellow editors and writers. In her spare time, she can be found chatting, walking (aimlessly but briskly), listening to Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” and raiding her mom’s closet.

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