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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

‘She was exceptionally brilliant’: Ifeoluwa Adeleye Th’23 remembered for kindness, intelligence

Friends recalled how Adeleye, who passed away on March 1, “always had positivity to offer.”

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“[Ife] knew how to bring people together,” Subomi Gbotosho’s Th’23 said at the funeral service for Ifeoluwa Adeleye Th’23 on March 10. 

“They say no one is perfect, but she was perfect to me. She was special, and always will be,” Gbotosho –– friend, classmate and former partner of Adeleye –– said. “Her friends describe her as affectionate, selfless, kind, motherly. To me, she was my best friend.”

Adeleye, who came to Dartmouth from Lagos, Nigeria, died on March 1 at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center after a stroke two weeks earlier, according to friend and classmate Serena Yombe Th’23. While Adeleye remained in the hospital, her friends asked doctors to continue her life support until her family from Nigeria could arrive in Hanover to say goodbye, Yombe said.

The Thayer community “came together” in response to Adeleye’s death, according to Geoffrey Parker, executive director of the Thayer Master of Engineering Management program. Although Adeleye lost responsiveness after her stroke, students sat vigil by her hospital bed. 

“I don’t think [Subomi] left that hospital in over a week,” Parker said. “[Adeleye’s friends] …  would leave for hours at a time, not days.”

Yombe described Adeleye as a fiercely thoughtful friend. 

“Once you got close to her, she really understood you as a person,” Yombe said. “When I wasn’t feeling okay, she would notice that I was a little off compared to how I’ve been and was always the first person to ask, ‘Serena, I noticed something’s wrong. What’s going on?’”

Nandita Nanda Th’23 also noted that Adeleye cared deeply for her friends.

“She was very observant,” Nanda said. “She could tell when something was bothering you, and then, at the same time, she would do anything to help.”

During the two weeks Adeleye remained unresponsive, Adeleye’s family held out hope that she might survive, Nanda said, adding that the family’s positivity gave her strength.

“Her family [was] so positive: ‘He will bring her back. God has a plan. God will bring her back. That girl, she will be back,’” Nanda explained. “It made us feel like anything could happen.”

The funeral service was meant to “bid [Adeleye] farewell in a joyful way,” Nanda said. The service involved singing songs and sharing memories about Adeleye by her family and friends.  

“Ife was exceptionally brilliant,” Gbotosho said at the service. “She was able to understand really complex concepts very quickly. I recall moments in class when I [was] lost at what the professor was saying, and she’d be like, ‘Calm down, don’t worry.’ She would then proceed to explain it to me, no matter how long it took.”

Gbotosho added that Adelye talked about her plans to one day adopt six children, and she often spent time with the kids at her church, bringing games and snacks for them. 

Thayer Master of Engineering Management co-director Jennifer St. Laurence said she felt the effects of Adeleye’s “glowing” energy. St. Laurence said she once bought Adeleye a plant after Adeleye made a nice comment about the flowers blooming in her office. 

“I said, ‘I’m gonna get one for you,” St. Lawrence said. “She just had that effect on me. I don’t traditionally buy gifts for students. She was just very excited about it, very happy to receive it.”

She was “somebody who was full of life,” friend and classmate Smiti Thapar Th’23 said.

“[Adeleye] always had positivity to offer,” Thapar added. “Beautiful inside [and] out, and very, very welcoming.”

For Nanda, Adeleye’s legacy reminds her to make the most of each moment. 

“I didn’t think much about time,” Nanda said. “You take things for granted, and you think everyone has unlimited time, that there’s always time to do everything … You don’t want to think that there won’t be a next time. But at the same time, this sort of thing gives you a perspective on if you [want] to say something, maybe do it soon.”