Miguel Cisneros, CC ‘24, passed away in a drowning accident on August 22, according to an email sent from Dean Valentini to Columbia students earlier today.

Earlier today, Dean James Valentini informed students that Miguel Cisneros, CC ‘24, passed away in a drowning accident. The full email is available below. 

Miguel was a first-generation college student from Chicago, where he was proud to mentor kids in his neighborhood and hoped to inspire them to go to the college of their dreams. At Columbia, he had hoped to learn Chinese and to study economics and had hopes of becoming a lawyer. In an interview with ABC 7, his mother said that “Miguel was loved, not just by me his mother, [but by] the whole community.”

Valentini also reminded students that Columbia has resources available to students to support them, listed in his email. He also invited students to share their condolences on the page linked here

Email from Dean Valentini to Columbia students on September 3 at 2:30 pm:

Dear Students,

I write to share the sorrowful news that a member of our community, Miguel Cisneros, died in a tragic drowning accident on August 22. A resident of Chicago, Illinois, Miguel joined the Columbia community in Fall 2020 and was scheduled to return to campus this week.

A first-generation student, Miguel was excited to be a Columbian and had hopes of learning Chinese and studying economics. He told his adviser how proud he was to serve as a mentor to kids from his neighborhood, which he hoped might inspire them to also make it to the college of their dreams. He loved his hometown of Chicago and spoke of it often.

The loss of life, especially at the start of the academic year, feels especially cruel. As we reunite as a community, I know many of us will take pause to send our compassion to Miguel’s family members as they mourn the loss of their son and brother. You are invited to contribute a personal message on this dedicated page, which we will share with Miguel’s family.

I want to remind you that Columbia has resources available to you, listed below, should you need support now, or later this year. They include places to reflect, people to talk to or spaces to be heard. Please don’t hesitate to take advantage of staff who are here to help.

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, 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 religiouslife@columbia.edu 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 an appointment that is convenient for you.

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