BY ALEXANDRA TIRADO & VERONICA SANSUR
“[Alexa Nowak] was always up for an adventure,” Kali Lang, a junior finance major, said. “She could make any situation more fun. She loved long runs on Bayshore, especially after a happy hour the night before. She was also always there for her friends and was an incredible listener.”
Lang, who was close friends with Alexa Nowak, described her as a down-to-earth, kind and free-spirited individual. Nowak, a sophomore marketing major, was found dead on Mon Feb. 12 in Jenkins Hall.
Tampa Police Department was notified on Monday of a Nowak’s death on UT’s campus, according to Stephen Hegarty, Tampa Police Department’s public safety information coordinator.
“I got the call on Friday and went over to Jenkins Hall,” Hegarty said. “We knew that there was an unexplained death on the seventh floor.”
Nowak’s cause of death cannot be determined until the medical examiners come back with the results, which could take eight to 12 weeks, according to Hegarty. And, even though it wouldn’t be right to make any assumptions about her cause of death, the only thing that has been ruled out so far, according to him, is foul play.
“We don’t always necessarily notify the campus of a student death; it depends [on whether] there is a visual impact to campus,” Stephanie Russell Krebs, the dean of students, said. “In Alexa’s situation, people could see. Everybody knew something was going on and that is when rumors start happening.”
Alexa, who was born in Ashtabula, Ohio, was a member of the National Honor Society and was active in sports, primarily volleyball and long distance running, according to her obituary. She was inducted to the Rome, New York, Sports Hall of Fame for volleyball.
One of her suitemates in her Jenkins dorm, Ivy Velazquez, a junior journalism major, said that, although they weren’t very close, one of the things she admired the most about Nowak was her determination.
“She loved to hang out with her friends at the beach,” Velazquez said. “She was a really outgoing person.”
Ken Serrano, a junior business major who was taking a marketing course with Nowak this semester, also remembers her as lovely person.
“It was a small class, so we all knew each other,” Serrano said. “I remembered her as a happy girl. She was always helping others and with a good attitude all the time.”
A memorial was held for Nowak on Feb. 15 where friends from the UT community paid their respects to her. Friends and acquaintances gathered in the Sykes Chapel, and they were able to write notes to her or her parents and friends and bring her flowers.
“It didn’t really hit me until I was at the memorial,” Velazquez said. “I was sitting there for the longest time because I did not know what to write, but I wanted to write something so bad. It was like the frustration of that moment mixed with the thought of ‘what if this were one of my friends?’ And I just felt horrible because of that.”
Velazquez also said that the event changed her outlook on how she approached people and said that, next time, she will make a bigger effort to get to know who she is living with.
“From what I heard from her friends, she was a really great person and a good friend,” Velazquez said. “So I think I might have missed out on having a really good, valuable friend.”
Lang also said that Nowak should be remembered as a fun loving, carefree, kind individual.
“I want the world to remember Alexa like that,” Lang said. “Running on Bayshore, hanging out at Outpost, and making friends everywhere she went. She was a little bundle of happiness and made every room better just by walking into.”
Nowak is survived by her mom, dad, sister and nieces.
This comes as an update to The Minaret’s recent report published Feb. 15.
Alex Tirado can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Veronica Sansur can be reached at email@example.com.