By Justin Wier and Samantha Phillips
Many students and faculty across campus are struggling to cope with the loss of Youngstown State University student Eric Stone.
Stone, a junior engineering student, passed away while playing basketball in the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center Tuesday evening. He was an honors student with a 4.0 grade point average and president of the YSU chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Wednesday, about 70 students, faculty and staff gathered at Fok Hall to share their thoughts about Eric.
Amy Cossentino, director of university honors programs, said Stone was always smiling and wanted to make a difference and help people — something she said was echoed by many at the gathering.
Cossentino recalled a time when Eric came into her office with an idea he believed was going to change the world, grabbing a paper plate and drawing his invention for her as they discussed obtaining patents.
“He may not have had the opportunity to make this grand impact on humanity, but from what I listened to yesterday, he made a profound impact on people,” she said. “That may not have been what he envisioned his life’s work to be, but … he did make his mark on people.”
Faramaz Mossayebi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, serves as faculty advisor for IEEE. He said Stone was a charismatic leader eager to get other students involved.
“Eric was an energetic young man, passionate about learning,” Mossayebi said. “He was one of the most inquisitive students that I have ever met, always aspiring to learn above and beyond the required course work.”
He said Stone’s passion resulted in his being elected president, even though the role is usually reserved for seniors.
“Eric was an extremely positive person, and I never saw him without a smile on his face. He was a rising star,” Mossayebi said.
Kyle Shehadi, a mechanical engineering student, started a GoFundMe campaign to support Stone’s family. He set the goal at $6,000. In 24 hours, 115 people — including YSU President Jim Tressel — contributed $4,145.
Shehadi said organizations have contacted him wanting to donate money, including IEEE which would like to make a substantial donation to Stone’s family. He said he hopes to collaborate with the YSU Foundation to create a scholarship in Stone’s memory.
Shehadi said everyone has been very honest and open about the way Stone’s passing has affected them.
“It’s better to let it out than just keeping it in, you don’t solve anything by just bottling it up,” he said. “It’s extremely rare [to see people coming together like this], I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life.”
The proceeds from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Crawl for a Cure and End of Semester Dinner are being donated to the families of Stone and Chris Sigley, a mechanical engineering student who passed away last month.
Many students and others have responded with remembrances and support to Stone’s family on social media.
“Our love and prayers go out to the Stone family for the tragic loss of Eric, a wonderful YSU student leader, son and friend,” Tressel said on Twitter Wednesday morning.
Chris Pagley, a psychology student, said rooming with Stone during his freshman year helped him adapt to living away from home.
“We helped each other come out of our social shell and experience all the greatness of life together,” Pagley said on Facebook. “It was great, I had a friend that was just as happy and outgoing as I was.”
Luke Johnson, a chemical engineering student, said he taught Stone during his first semester as a teaching assistant.
“He was an extremely bright kid that was curious about learning more,” Johnson said on Facebook. “He made my experience [as a TA] unforgettable because he was one of the few students that actually talked to me and made me feel comfortable.”
Dylan Edwards, a political science student said it was always a pleasure to have him around.
“His smile was the kind that brightened days, lifted spirits and showed that the glass wasn’t half empty but full to the brim,” Edwards said on Facebook. “Many people’s days … were made a little better because he was in them.”
Colleen Maskarinec, a biology major and Stone’s girlfriend, sent the Jambar a statement when she heard an article was being prepared. The statement, which she asked to have reproduced in full, follows.
“‘Hold on tight and never let go’ has never meant so much in my life before. I thank God everyday for bringing Eric into my life and showing me the once-in-a-lifetime kind of love. Anyone who knew Eric would tell you he had the most amazing blue eyes, a great laugh and was one of the most intelligent people you will ever meet. He enjoyed seeing everyone around him smile. Eric told me daily, ‘I love you always. I will always be here to be your Stone. I know Veterinary school will be rough, but I will be here for you after a stressful day to make you smile.’ Every day is an adventure from late night study groups, getting lost in a city you have never been to or swimming in the Bahamas with dolphins. I cherish every memory and crazy adventure I spent with the man of my dreams. We can plan our lives the way we want, but the adventure along the way is what defines who we become. I can write a book to show you how many adventures and crazy stories Eric and I had together. Although, I know he won’t be here to graduate college with or get married to; he is my guardian angel looking over me and his loved ones. Please be on the lookout, there is a GoFundMe page and a fundraiser being started by the VP of ASME. From the bottom of my heart, the Stone family and I thank you for sending prayers, love and support. With the support of my family, friends, and the YSU community we can do anything we put our minds to because I know Eric sure did. Never give up.“
Shehadi’s GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/ericstonememory. The ASME Crawl for a Cure and end-of-semester dinner will begin at the Rust Belt Tap House at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.