You are reading

Queens College unveils memorial honoring community members lost to COVID

Apr. 25, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

Queens College students, faculty and staff unveiled a permanent memorial dedicated to over 100 members of its community lost to the COVID-19 pandemic during a ceremony on Wednesday, April 19.

Funding for the memorial, which is a boulder with a commemorative plaque, was made possible by the college’s Office of Student Development and Leadership (OSDL) and Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. 

The Queens College COVID memorial plaque honoring over 100 members of its community lost to the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo by Maria Matteo)

A corresponding COVID-19 memorial website will list victims’ names, along with links to grief support resources. A banner on display at the ceremony featured a QR code linking to the new webpage. 

Queens College President Frank Wu gave remarks at the event held at Cooperman Plaza in front of the college’s Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library. 

“COVID-19 changed our lives forever in so many ways. No one in this country has been immune to the devastating effects of Covid-19, one way or another,” Wu said. “This is especially true in the borough of Queens, which was the epicenter of the pandemic during its early stages. We all suffered, whether you were sickened by this awful disease, had to care for someone who was sick, struggled with social isolation, lost a job, or worst of all, lost a loved one. It’s likely we all knew someone personally who passed from COVID-19. Today, we unveil a memorial that honors the ones we lost.”

The idea for a permanent memorial to all those with ties to the college community was conceived by a Queens College graduate student and an alumna — sisters Jessica and Danielle Alejandro — as a tribute to their grandfather Joseph Szalkiewicz, who died from complications of COVID-19 in 2021.

Jessica is pursuing a master’s in childhood special education; Danielle, who completed a degree in elementary and early childhood education in December, plans to pursue a graduate TESOL degree at the college this year. The sisters are working with Addabbo to erect a permanent memorial to COVID-19 victims in New York City.

Like so many who were separated from their loved ones during the pandemic, the Alejandro’s bid goodbye to their grandfather — “the heart of their family” — over FaceTime shortly before his death. 

In 2022, they helped coordinate a Yellow Heart Memorial at the college, an initiative sponsored by the eponymous nonprofit organization that aims to acknowledge those who died from COVID-19 not as statistics, but as beloved family members, friends, and colleagues. Under this designation, Queens College became the first college in New York State and second in the nation to recognize COVID-19 victims.

Recent News

Urgent manhunt underway for ‘animal’ who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl in Flushing park on Thursday: NYPD

The NYPD announced a $10,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of a Hispanic man who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl in a wooded area of Kissena Corridor Park on Thursday afternoon.

More than sixty investigators were at the crime scene late into the night. During a press briefing by NYPD brass on Friday, Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said that the manhunt was expanded city-wide and that the department would spare no expense until the suspect was apprehended.

Southeast Queens man arraigned on weapons charges after cops search his ‘ghost car’ near LaGuardia Airport: DA

A Hollis man was criminally charged after police discovered a cache of weapons in his vehicle during a traffic stop. He was pulled over for driving a “ghost car” with obscured license plates in East Elmhurst near LaGuardia Airport during the early morning hours of June 12.

Judd Sanson, 27, of Jamaica Avenue, was ordered held without bail after he was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday afternoon on a criminal complaint charging him with multiple counts of weapons possession, unlawful possession of pistol or revolver ammunition, and unlawful use of a police uniform or emblem and other crimes after the arsenal was found in his SUV.

Man sought for raping 13-year-old girl in Flushing park in broad daylight Thursday: NYPD

An urgent manhunt is underway in Northeast Queens after a Hispanic man allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl at knifepoint in Kissena Corridor Park in broad daylight on Thursday afternoon.

Police from the 109th Precinct in Flushing reported that the youngster was with a 13-year-old boy in the park near Kalmia Avenue and Colden Street at around 3:30 p.m. when a stranger approached and threatened them with a knife, forcing them both into a wooded section where he tied them up. The perpetrator proceeded to forcibly remove their cell phones before sexually assaulting the girl, police said, adding that he fled in an unknown direction.