By Ben SuazoNews Editor
A recent Hofstra graduate and sister of Phi Sigma Sigma, Cristina El Shahawi, passed away Feb. 7, according to her sorority sisters. El Shahawi was living in Los Angeles when she was killed in a car accident.
Just two weeks ago, El Shahawi surprised her sisters in Phi Sigma Sigma with a visit while she was interviewing for an internship on the East Coast.
Mario Bolanos, Assistant Director of OSLA, noted that after hearing of the sorority’s loss, members of other Greek Life e-boards came to him asking to informed of Phi Sigma Sigma’s plans for memorializing El Shahawi.
“The rest of the community is showing their support and condolences. Her loss is a sad tragedy, and it is bringing the community together,” said Bolanos.
Courtney McKain, a junior and sister of Phi Sigma Sigma, recalls that El Shahawi was Phi Sig’s Member Recruitment Chair for 2011 and was personally responsible for McKain’s being recruited into her sorority.
“I got a random Facebook message one day saying, ‘I heard you were looking to join a sorority—why don’t you come out for Wing Night?” said McKain. “Cristina was always there for anybody, it didn’t matter who. She could fill an entire room with her smile—you couldn’t be in a bad mood around her and if you could, she’d change that.”
McKain’s words fit the general description for El Shahawi. Pauline Kania, who was El Shahawi’s “little” in Phi Sigma Sigma. Kania also remembers El Shahawi’s warm smile.
“She was so thoughtful and selfless. She cared about everyone. She would promise you something one day and even if you forgot she always remembered… She was so sweet, kind, caring, adventurous,” said Kania.
Cristina El Shahawi graduated last year with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics. She was born in Colombia and although she grew up in Los Angeles, her sisters remember her as a girl who always loved to travel. While at Hofstra, she was a member of the snowboarding club and also held the position of Fundraising Chair in her sorority.
Larry Daves, senior pledgemaster of Phi Delta Theta, understands how the Phi Sigma Sigma sisters are feeling.
“I'm sure that they're feeling incomplete right now and it's something that we're not used to,” Daves said. “People our age just don't suddenly pass. It's normally old people.”
Last July, Daves’s fellow fraternity brother Pete Teleha was hit by a car while riding a scooter on Long Island.
Daves wanted to provide words of encouragement for the sisters of Phi Sigma Sigma: “Be there for one another.”
Phi Sigma Sigma will be holding a private memorial for El Shahawi with sisters and alumni. The sorority will hold a public memorial for the University community on March 6 at 5:30 p.m. The memorial will begin in the Cultural Center Theater and will end in front of Hofstra Hall with a balloon release.
Additional reporting by Samantha Neudorf and Lexi Jezina