Kenyon Mourns Julia Igoe

Julia Igoe, a rising senior interested in social justice sociology, was “a positive light in the world.”

Julia Igoe
Julie Igoe '25.

Julia Jane Igoe ’25, a sociology major who was drawn to activist-oriented work, died suddenly May 26 in her home state of Rhode Island. The rising senior had recently returned from a semester abroad studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. She was 21.

Celestino Limas, vice president for student affairs, described Julia in a note to the Kenyon community as someone who was active across campus and who was committed to her academic pursuits.

“She is someone whose absence will be felt by many, and I know all of you join me in mourning the loss of someone with so much still to give this world,” he wrote.

Born Oct. 23, 2002, Julia graduated from the Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island, where she was a two-sport varsity athlete and served as captain of the varsity soccer and varsity lacrosse teams.

A member of the women’s soccer team at Kenyon during all three of her years here, Julia also was part of several student organizations, including Kenyon Athletes for Equality, Morgan’s Message, Kenyon Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Zeta Alpha Pi sorority.

Academically, Julia majored in sociology, minored in English, and had a concentration in women’s and gender studies. Each semester she received a Distinguished Academic Scholarship.

Julia’s advisor, Associate Professor of Sociology Austin Johnson, said she was interested in social justice sociology and activist-oriented work. The question always at the top of her mind was: “Why aren’t people making more just choices?”

“Whatever she was going to do, she was going to make the world a better place with her big heart and her brain and just the way she lives,” he said. “Every time she walked into my office was a joy.”

Johnson, who serves as department chair, called Julia “a positive light in the world” who was driven by the need to connect with others.

“She wanted to connect with people and understand them rather than collect individual experiences for herself,” he said.

Chloe Goldstein ’25 got to know Julia through Zeta Alpha Pi and remembers her as a caring and enthusiastic friend.

“She knew how to make the people around her feel very loved and seen,” she said. “She was always smiling and made everyone who surrounded her feel comfortable.”

An adventurous soul who wasn’t afraid to go against the grain, Julia will be sorely missed, Goldstein said.

“It’s heartbreaking that she’s not here with us anymore and that she doesn’t get to shine her light at Kenyon anymore.”

Her father, Paul Igoe, said that his daughter distinguished herself with her empathy for others.

“Julia would notice when somebody was down or having a tough time and would make a special effort to reach out to them in little ways, unseen ways, to help them get through it.” 

In his eulogy, he described her as someone who lived life with great passion. She was fearless and determined, he said, someone who stood up for herself and her friends. She was smart, exuberant, loyal, ambitious, thoughtful and loving — and not afraid to get in front of a crowd for an impromptu song or Irish jig.

A dedicated student, Julia planned to apply for a Fulbright to teach in Spain before attending law school. In past summers, she served as an intern for U.S. Sen. Jack Reed in Washington, D.C., and in the environmental, social and governance advisory group of Edelman Smithfield in New York. She had recently accepted an internship with the New York public relations firm Weber Shandrick.

Survivors include Julia’s parents, Paul Igoe and Judith Gnys; brothers Dylan and Harrison; and grandmothers Ann Gnys and Theresa Igoe. A Mass of Christian burial took place on June 1 in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Julia’s memory may be made to Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, where she was a peer educator as a high school student.