Student’s smile ‘could light up a room’

Ruth George
Ruth George

By Sonya Booth

Ruth George — she liked to be called “Ruthie” — was an exceptional and engaged student who stood out, even in a full lecture hall.

“It was apparent that she was here to learn, and that she thoroughly enjoyed learning,” said Tracy Baynard, associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition, who taught her this semester in the course “Introduction to Exercise Science and Health.”

“Ruthie not only possessed book smarts, but she was a genuine person,” Baynard said. With 200 students in the course, “she was one I could look at in class to determine if my lecture was making sense or not, and she always provided a laugh or a smirk at my goofy jokes.”

George, 19, a Berwyn resident, was found dead Nov. 23 in her car in the Halsted Street parking garage on campus. A Chicago man was arrested and charged with first-degree murder Nov. 25.

“All of us are devastated by the loss of Ruth George, a member of our Honors College and a talented kinesiology student with dreams and aspirations to become a health professional and help others,” UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis said. “Our thoughts, our hearts and our condolences are with her family and friends during this trying period.”

A sophomore majoring in kinesiology in the College of Applied Health Sciences, she planned a career in physical therapy. She was an active member of Delta Epsilon Mu, a campus pre-health professions fraternity, and members organized a vigil in her memory Nov. 25.

George was fundraising chair for Delta Epsilon Mu

As fundraising chair for Delta Epsilon Mu, she organized four events this semester to support the group’s philanthropies. She regularly exceeded the chapter’s two-hours-per-week volunteer requirement in her work at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, said chapter president Kevin Roy.

She was also a student in the Honors College. 

“Some people can light up a room, and Ruthie was one of those people,” said Michele McCrillis, Honors College assistant dean.

In McCrillis’ seminar on documentary photography and film, “she enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to explore and experiment with ideas outside her major,” McCrillis said.

“But it’s her smile that I remember, and will miss, the most.”  

She was a student employee in the Academic Computing and Communications Center, providing assistance at the help desks in the Daley Library, Behavioral Sciences Building and Academic Residential Complex.

She was a model employee, said supervisor Ryan Szymkiewicz, “hard working and always wanting to learn more, often picking up extra shifts and working at different locations to help out her coworkers and get more experience.”

After her death was announced, the AHS dean’s office organized support services for students and staff. Counselors and canine support dogs were available throughout the day in the Physical Education Building.

About 125 people gathered to remember her Nov. 25 in Student Center East, where one of her professors read the recommendation letter he would have sent to future graduate schools on her behalf.

“Ruthie was a gifted individual in many regards. She was compassionate, enthusiastic, sincere and incredibly dedicated to her studies. She never missed an opportunity to help one of her peers,” said Tomer Kanan, clinical assistant professor of kinesiology and nutrition, who teaches the fall semester anatomy and physiology course she was taking.

“I believe Ruthie would have made incredible contributions in her future.”

The college is collecting notes of condolence, to be sent to her family, in the Academic Support and Achievement Program office, 356 PEB. Students are welcome to stop by the office for emotional support.

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