By Kaye Burnet | News Editor
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Twenty-two year old Duquesne student Cheyenne Warner, who died Sunday, was a shy but sweet person who wanted to encourage girls and underprivileged students to pursue careers in math and science, according to her friends and teachers.
Emergency medical workers found Warner dead in her apartment on the 19th floor of Brottier Hall on March 13, shortly after 5 p.m. An autopsy performed the next day was inconclusive, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, and officials are awaiting the results of a toxicology report to determine the cause of death.
Warner, originally from Slippery Rock, began her studies at Duquesne in the fall of 2011, and was about to graduate at the end of the current semester. She was in a challenging five-year program where she earned an undergraduate physics degree and was almost done with a master’s in education. Her dream was to teach high school physics, according to friend and fellow physics major Ben Torisky.
Simonetta Fritelli, chair of the physics department, taught Warner in several classes and said Warner was enthusiastic about empowering girls through education.
“I told her that was wonderful,” Fritelli recalled. “There are very few people who have the gift and the drive to do that.”
According to Fritelli, Warner loved to spread her passion for math and physics.
“She was very involved in the [physics] program,” Fritelli said. “She was always willing to help with outreach.”
Some of the outreach events Warner volunteered for included doing demonstrations for groups of middle school and high school girls who would come to tour the department. Warner also helped with open houses and tours.
Warner balanced her academic pursuits with a job at the campus Starbucks, where she worked as a barista for two years.
“In all my 19 years here, she was one of the best [employees] I ever had,” said Kathy Ford, Warner’s supervisor.
Ford said Warner was always very helpful, but quiet.
“I had to force her to talk to me,” she recalled with a laugh. “But once you talked to her, she would open up.”
Senior physics major Elyse Stevens was friends with Warner for years. She said that, as a friend, Warner was “all for success and support.”
“She completely appreciated you for who you are, without question,” Stevens said. “When she loved, it was unconditional and protective.”
Warner was remembered by the Duquesne community at a memorial Mass Wednesday evening.