Forever a Warrior

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Tears, laughs, and memories filled Alumni Hall in St. Paul’s as hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the life of UW student Alex Foto, who passed away in early August.


The memorial made it obvious that, in her one year as a UW student and warrior, Foto made an impact. Jean Andrey, acting dean of the faculty of environment led the event. Foto was just about to enter her second year in the international development program (INDEV) as well as start work as a don at St. Paul’s, where she had been a resident the year before.


The memorial began with the song “Ride Away” written and performed by Max Esser, a friend of Foto’s and fellow UW cheerleader.


“You could describe her in a million ways and never quite do her justice. Alex was larger than life in the way she thought, spoke, and cared about the people around her,” said Emily Needles, a UW student and long-time friend of Foto.


Other speakers at the memorial included Jonathan Oldenburger, a second year INDEV student; David Bell, Foto’s don at St. Paul’s; Iona Marinescu, Foto’s diving coach; Sarah D’Angelo, a UW cheerleader; Daniella Lorza, Foto’s cousin; Dr. Graham Brown, the principal of St. Paul’s; and Foto’s mother, Pat. INDEV professor Larry Swatuk sent a video message from South Africa where he is on sabbatical.


A theme that continued through each speaker’s words was the impression Foto left during her one year at UW and 18 years on earth. “What was lost in time, is made up in impact,” Andrey said.


Andrey wore a bright yellow Warrior’s sweatshirt to the memorial, many attendees were sporting black and gold as an homage to Foto’s time as a UW Warrior.


Foto was a UW cheerleader, a member of the INDEV student society, a lifeguard, and a member of the UW chapter of World Vision. As several speakers said, Foto had many chapters in her life so far.


“The writing of this chapter had only just begun when its author was snatched away from us far too soon,” Bell said of Foto’s short time at UW. “I miss Alex, we all miss Alex a lot. But we will continue to write her story, just as she would have and her legacy here will always live on.”


“She was my best friend, she was my person and that is something for which I will forever be thankful,” Needles said through tears. “I will miss her more than I will ever be able to say.”


Sarah D’Angelo, a fellow cheerleader, talked about Foto’s pride in being a UW Warrior, the team wore shirts with angel wings and the words “forever a warrior” printed on them. “She dedicated her life to changing the world, and I can assure you that she changed mine in our year of friendship,” D’Angelo said.


Following the memorial, attendees were encouraged to go to the Warrior’s basketball game, which featured a tribute to Foto.
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