Friends, professor remember student
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 03:05
Seniors Anna Trazanova and Stephanie Prezant, who attended high school together in Haworth, N.J. and were roommates this year, met the Prezant family for brunch in Philadelphia on April 22.
They drove separately and, when Prezant arrived, she noticed a parking spot directly in front of the restaurant. She stood in the rain for several minutes to hold the spot for her friend who, after stopping at multiple red lights, arrived to find a soaked and smiling Prezant.
“We had a beautiful brunch. It was me, her mom, her dad, her sister, two family friends and her boyfriend,” Trazanova said. “It was a gift that we had that brunch because it was the last time I saw her.”
Prezant died on April 29 in a rock climbing accident on Mohonk Mountain in New York. After reaching the cliff’s summit, Prezant began her descent, and her equipment malfunctioned halfway down. She fell approximately 20 feet and then was transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She turned 22 on March 5.
Prezant was scheduled to graduate later this month with majors in criminal justice and psychology.
Senior Matt Buckworth remembered Prezant for her “bubbly” personality, the smile she wore “all the time” and her “adventurous” nature.
The only thing he planned to do in March 2010 was take one of his best friends, Prezant, out to celebrate her 20th birthday. However, she had another idea. With Buckworth’s grandmother in the hospital and her friend visibly upset, the birthday girl insisted they make a pit stop.
“[Steph] said ‘Let’s go visit her.’ She didn’t know [my grandmother] and it really stuck with me because she was so caring. She knew that I was upset about it and we went to the hospital,” Buckworth said. “That was one of the best moments that captured her personality.”
Danny Gilbert, 24, and Prezant would have celebrated their two-year anniversary in July. The two met while they both worked at Pinemere Camp, an overnight camp for Jewish teenagers in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.
“The two years, it feels like 20. When you get to know someone on such a personal level, and peel back layers and just have such fond admiration and respect for each other […] it kind of transcends time,” Gilbert said. “Time didn’t matter to Steph and me. It was a relationship that blossomed from the get-go and kept blossoming.”
Gilbert remembered a party at the Prezant home in North Jersey on the eve of her mother’s 50th birthday party. Prezant’s father, along with a few friends, acoustically covered “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crows.
“She understood and appreciated the simple, beautiful aspects of life, no matter how small,” Gilbert said. “We had many perfect moments in our relationship […] but this moment was just so perfect because we were surrounded by family. We were just sitting there, listening to this beautiful song that we both loved and knew. It was one of the most serene moments of our life.”
Melissa Rotsides, who graduated from the university last spring, spent four semesters as Prezant’s “twin” in the sorority Gamma Phi Beta, of which they were both founding members. Because the chapter was founded in spring 2010, members received “twins” rather than “bigs” or “littles.”
Before Rotsides’ graduation day, the two met for lunch at Klondike Kate’s, their favorite spot. Prezant’s parting gift was two-fold—a necklace, along with a framed picture of the “twins.”
“It wasn’t store-bought, it was hand-made,” Rotsides said. “That was so true to life of Steph’s personality. She put her heart and her mind and her soul into everything.”
Rotsides said her sorority sisters will remember Prezant’s warmth.
“She was one of those people who was always upbeat, she always had a smile on her face, she always had a kind word to say about someone,” Rotsides said. “I think everyone who was around her could just feel that she radiated life and energy and love for good things and good people.”
Criminal justice professor Ken Haas taught Prezant in two courses and was considered to be her mentor by department members.