Lehman College Mourns the Loss of Yoryi Dume

By Deirdre Fanzo

Students and faculty write their final thoughts to Yoryi on a board dedicated to his memory. Picture courtesy of the Office of Prestigious Awards. 

On the afternoon of Jan. 31st, Joseph Magdaleno notified the Lehman community via email that Yoryi Dume, a senior at Lehman, had passed away over the winter break. The email did not disclose a cause of death. This news came as a terrible shock to students and faculty members, many of whom had forged close relationships with the young scholar. 

“The amount of love he had for people is shared throughout. We all loved him as deeply as he loved us.” 

- Hilliary Frank, a Lehman chemistry major

Dume entered Lehman in the fall semester of 2014 as a member of the Lehman Scholar’s Program, a demanding program that requires its students to take on a rigorous course load and maintain a high GPA. Dume was an enthusiastic student who had no trouble with these requirements. He approached his studies with determination and set the bar high for the other students in his classes. 

Dume spent much of his time in Lehman’s Office of Prestigious Awards (OPA) where, according to its director, Professor Augustine, “he was a very good mentor to many people. Yoryi was like everybody’s big brother. He had big dreams.” It was under Augustine’s mentorship that Dume applied for his very first scholarship, which he was ultimately awarded. Dume had hoped to attend Duke University for graduate school where he would have continued to pursue an education in Latin American Studies. 

Dume also spent time studying abroad in Brazil. He fostered a great love for Latin American Studies, and his time in Brazil allowed him to celebrate this passion. According to Augustine, “Travel was where [Yoryi] found his happiest moments.” 

Memorial service for Yoryi Dume. Picture courtesy of Jennifer Mackenzie.

On Feb. 1, faculty and students gathered in the OPA for a memorial for Dume. The following day, a separate memorial service was held in the Student Life Building. In the OPA, those who had gathered wrote letters to Dume, which were placed in a box that now holds a place of honor in the office. His professors and peers also shared thoughts, memories, and anecdotes of their times together with him, and there was not a dry eye in the room. 

Students Helina Owusu-Sekyere, a biology major, and Hilliary Frank, a chemistry major, knew Dume closely through time spent together at the OPA. Owusu-Sekyere said he “was a wonderful person. He was very determined.” Frank and Augustine both emphasized that “he was always there for you.” Frank added, “The amount of love he had for people is shared throughout. We all loved him as deeply as he loved us.”