GS second-year student Ajay Arman has passed away from a rare form of cancer. In an email this afternoon to the GS student body, GS Dean Rosen-Metsch detailed Arman’s time at Columbia and aspirations. Ajay and his wife, fellow GS student Michelle, started at Columbia in the spring of 2018 from Northern California. Ajay studied political science and was passionate about environmental justice and healthcare reform. He was preparing to apply to law school. His passion drove him outside of school to volunteer for nonprofit organizations that work to reduce pollution and raise awareness about environmental issues.

According to Dean Rosen-Metsch, his condition worsened in May. Ajay and Michelle requested that they could walk together during GS Class Day to be able to fulfill their goals of graduating from Columbia together.

Our condolences go out to Ajay’s friends, fellow students, Michelle, and the rest of his family.

The full text of the email, titled “On the passing of GS student Ajay Arman,” from Dean Rosen-Metsch is below:

Dear Students,

It is with the deepest sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of GS undergraduate Ajay Arman, who had been battling a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. Ajay and his wife Michelle—a GS student as well—came to Columbia from Northern California in the spring of 2018. He brought with him a deep commitment to environmental justice and healthcare reform. Ajay majored in political science, and was preparing to apply to law school.

In many ways, Ajay embodied the spirit of a GS student. The son of agricultural laborers, he was the first in his family to attend college. His path to GS included working 80 hours a week while also attending community college, but his passion for his community drove him to do even more. He served in multiple local nonprofit organizations in his hometown, working to reduce pollution and increase environmental literacy. He brought this passion with him to Columbia. Throughout his battle with cancer, he remained focused on his goal of attending law school and his desire to make the world a better place. Those at GS who worked most closely with Ajay say they have never met someone with more determination and devotion—to his family, his community, and achieving his goals.

In May, as his condition worsened, Ajay and Michelle requested that Ajay participate in GS Class Day, so they could experience the joy of accomplishing their goal of graduating from Columbia together. As we all come together to support Michelle, I hope we can also take inspiration from Ajay’s relentless spirit. Our deepest condolences go out to Michelle and Ajay’s family.

Whenever we lose someone within our community, we are all affected, whether or not we knew the person well. Please know that your academic advisor, the staff at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), and members of the Office of the University Chaplain are all available to provide you with any additional support you may need at this time. I have listed contact information for these resources below.

With deepest sympathy,

Lisa Rosen-Metsch


Counseling and Psychological Services
5th and 8th Floor Lerner Hall
(212) 854-2878

Office of the University Chaplain

GS Dean of Students Office
(212) 854-2881

photo via Wikimedia Commons