In Memoriam

Stephanie Prezant, April 29, 2012


8:48 a.m., May 8, 2012--Stephanie Iris Prezant, a University of Delaware senior from Haworth, N.J.,  died on April 29 at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., after a tragic rock climbing accident. 

Ms. Prezant, 22, was scheduled to graduate from UD in May, with majors in criminal justice and psychology. 

"I am deeply saddened by Stephanie's death, and I offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends. There are no words that fully express the grief that follows the death of one so young," said Dawn Thompson, dean of students and associate vice president for student life.

Ms. Prezant was serving this semester as an undergraduate teaching assistant in a criminal justice course on "Problems of Corrections," taught by Ken Haas, professor of sociology. The introductory level course has approximately 140 students.

"I asked Stephanie to be my TA for this course for two major reasons," Haas said. "First, she literally was one of the nicest, most personable and empathetic students I have taught during my 40 years at UD, and I have taught thousands of terrific young people during that time. Stephanie was mature beyond her years and blessed with a wry, self-effacing sense of humor that never failed to brighten my day. Outside of class, she always seemed to be in the company of friends, which was not surprising for a young woman who was not only vibrant and cheerful, but exceptionally thoughtful and caring. The students in the introductory class clearly thought the world of her and after class often asked her the questions that they were afraid to ask me.

"The second reason I chose her for a TA is that she also was gifted with an extraordinary intellect and logical reasoning ability that few of us possess," he said. "She had an all-too rare appreciation for irony and some of the more mysterious aspects of human behavior. That's why a double major in criminal justice and psychology was perfect for her. Although she maintained a high grade point average, she did her best only when she took advanced classes with a law school casebook and complex legal topics. She earned A's with plenty of room to spare in my two most difficult courses -- CRJU 311 "Capital Punishment and the Law" and CRJU 450 "Prisoners and the Law." When I asked questions during classes about difficult issues from previously assigned casebook readings, she was always prepared to answer. But she was such an other-oriented person that she would first look around the classroom and make sure that no other student wanted to answer the question. Then and only then, she would provide what was always an articulate and well-reasoned answer.

"I did my best to persuade Stephanie to go to law school and pursue a career in law, and I'm reasonably certain that that's exactly what she eventually would have done. She would have blossomed into a formidable attorney. I will never forget her," Haas said. 

Ms. Prezant was a graduate of Northern Valley Regional High School, Demarest and Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County. She attended Pinemere Camp for many summers.

She is survived by her parents, Elana and Jeffrey Prezant, brother Jonathan and sister Jacqueline, and grandparents Tania and Philip Horn and Louise and Howard Prezant. 

A funeral was held May 1 at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, N.J. Shiva was observed through Sunday evening, May 6.

A campus memorial service will be held at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 9, in Mitchell Hall.

Contributions in Ms. Prezant's memory may be made to SSDS of Bergen County, JNF or the Camp Pinemere Scholarship fund.

Condolences may be left online.

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