Dean Valentini announced that the rising sophomore lost her battle with cancer earlier this month in an email to students this afternoon.

Editor’s Warning: Student Death

On Wednesday afternoon, Dean James Valentini informed Columbia College students that rising sophomore Maseh Prudence Apehngong, known as Prudence, passed away from cancer on August 2. The full email is available below.

Prudence was born in Cameroon and joined the Class of 2024 in Fall 2020. Her brother Emmauel shared that her “greatest wish was to beat cancer so she could complete school and contribute in her own best way to society.” Valentini shared that Prudence’s advisor saw her “passion for learning and positive attitude, and the unyielding determination”—she continued to fight “despite her condition.”

Valentini also reminded the Columbia community that grieving Prudence’s passing is a painful process, and students should utilize the University’s health and religious resources listed in his email. He also invited Columbia affiliates to share their condolences with this page.

Bwog also wants to remind students to utilize the school’s psychological resources as needed. Students can call Columbia Psychological Services at (212) 854-2878 and Barnard Furman Counseling Center at (212) 854-2092.

We at Bwog extend our deepest sympathies to Prudence’s family and friends—may she rest in peace.

Email from Dean Valentini sent to students on Wednesday, August 11 at 2:42 pm:

Dear Students,

I am saddened to share the news that Maseh Prudence Apehngong, known to friends and family as Prudence, lost her battle with terminal cancer on August 2. Born in Cameroon, Prudence joined the Columbia College community last fall as a member of the Class of 2024. 

Prudence’s brother Emmauel shared, “Prudence was a fighter and was loved by many. Her greatest wish was to beat cancer so she could complete school and contribute in her own best way to society.“ We mourn that she was unable to fulfill her dreams but are grateful that she chose Columbia as a place where she hoped to make her mark. Her admissions counselor remembers Prudence as a “wonderfully kind person who embodied the ideals of the Columbia community in every possible way.” In the brief time that she was part of our community, Prudence’s advising dean was struck by her passion for learning and positive attitude, and the unyielding determination she exhibited to reach her goals despite her condition.

I know that losing a community member is painful. After the precariousness of this past year, processing grief may feel even more difficult. Remember that Columbia has resources available for all students; I have listed them below and hope you’ll take advantage of them if you need support during this time. 

We are in touch with Prudence’s family and have expressed our support for them during this time of indescribable grief. I know that you join me in sending them our deepest condolences. I invite you to share any personal messages on this dedicated page, which we will collect and send to Prudence’s family, as well.


James J. Valentini

Dean of Columbia College and

Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc: Shih-Fu Chang

Interim Dean of The Fu Foundation School of

Engineering and Applied Science

Resources for Students

Columbia Health offers a shared space for bereavement, taking place each Friday at 1:00 p.m. EDT and open to graduate and undergraduate students. You may also find their tips on Coping with Loss a helpful resource.

The Office of Religious Life can be reached for spiritual counseling at or (212) 854-2184. Call or email to make an appointment to speak to one of our chaplains or religious life advisers. For those on campus, Earl Hall and Saint Paul’s Chapel are open from 9am-6pm Monday through Friday, for prayer and reflection.

Your advisers in the Berick Center for Student Advising can be reached for personal support by scheduling a virtual appointment that is convenient for you.

Hamilton Hall via Bwog Archives