On Saturday, we shared with our community the unbearably sad news that junior Leah Bell had passed away in a tragic boating accident in Copenhagen, Denmark. Leah was participating in the DIS Study Abroad in Scandinavia program in the positive psychology track. Leah had studied in Stockholm for three months and then moved to Copenhagen for the final month of the program.
This is tragic news for Leah’s family, friends and for our entire community.
Leah was an active member of the 5C Mental Health Alliance, and she was a friend to many. She was a psychology major, a pre-health student and was working in neuroscience in exciting ways and wanted to be a neonatal nurse.
“Leah was a lovely young woman and very kind. She was a pre-health student who was delighted by working with children," says Psychology Professor Patricia Smiley, who noted that Leah had interned in a neonatal unit. "She found that she loved the experience of caring for premature babies, of helping families learn to bond with them and have hope for their future as a family.”
“It’s such a beautiful aspiration that it makes it more painful to lose her. She had a clear vision of what she wanted and she was going to do so much good,” shared Smiley.
Neuroscience Professor Nicole Weekes, who worked with Leah in her lab, said, “Leah was kind and thoughtful. She had an excellent mind and an even deeper heart. She was a delight.”
On Sunday evening, the Pomona community gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember Leah and provide support for each other. During the gathering, students, staff and faculty lit candles and shared a few words about Leah to the group, and privately in a memory book.
Leah was from Madisonville, Louisiana, and attended Christ Episcopal High School. A memorial was also held in Copenhagen on Sunday night following the accident in which Leah and a Stonehill College student died.
Pomona College will celebrate the Leah in a memorial service at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1 at Bridges Hall of Music (150 E. 4th Street, Claremont, CA 91711).
If students need any academic or other kinds of support please contact the Dean of Students office or the Dean on Call (via campus safety at 909-607-2000).