Lisa Williams: a bright light at Cabrini

By Kyleigh Brunotte
February 9, 2023

Lisa Williams, senior accounting major, was a light at Cabrini that will shine on. Photo courtesy of the Williams family.
Lisa Williams, senior accounting major, was a light at Cabrini that will shine on. Photo courtesy of the Williams family.

Lisa Williams was a senior accounting major at Cabrini University who tragically passed away on campus on Dec. 12, 2022. While so many still grieve her loss, the light Williams left will continue to shine.

Williams was born on Oct. 2, 2001, at Jefferson Hospital in Philadephia, Pennsylvania. Williams was the daughter of Michelle and Lionel Williams, sister of Tanisha Williams, and brother-in-law, Brandon Snuggs.

Always giving back

Members of Cabrini's Catholic Relief Services (CRS) at a local event.
Lisa Williams (pictured far right) with Dr. Jerry Zurek, Dr. Ray Ward, and members of Cabrini University’s Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Photo from Mariana Cruz-Sanchez.

Williams was the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) event planner, treasurer of Cabrini’s Social Work Club, a member of the Student Government Association, an Orientation Leader, and worked within Cabrini’s Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

Williams personified Cabrini’s core value of giving back to the community. “She was a person that always put others before herself,” said Puja Neopaney, M.B.A. student, international business major, and president of CRS at Cabrini.

“She [Lisa] was always helping out, no matter what, with any event, whatever club she was in,” said Ashley McLoughlin, senior marketing major and friend of Williams. “Even if it wasn’t her club and her friends were in it, she would try to help them out as well.”

Williams was self-effacing with a “surprising sense of humor,” remembers Dr. Raymond Ward, director of the Wolfington Center and co-adviser of CRS. Ward recalled Williams’ passivity, but also her ability to banter with sarcasm infused with love.

“It always felt better when she was here,” Ward said.

“She was not a talkative person, but she really listened to everyone and was very engaged to help the group succeed,” said Dr. Jerry Zurek, communication professor and co-adviser of CRS.

Both Ward and Zurek agreed Williams always worked behind the scenes to make things happen for campus organizations. “She was always willing to be the support to people,” Ward said.

In the classroom

Lisa Williams in front of a Christmas tree.
Lisa Williams’ smile was well known throughout campus and continues to shine. Photo from Ashley McLoughlin.

Williams also thrived academically. She graduated from Lower Merion High School in 2019, where she was a student and cheerleader. At Cabrini, Williams was a double major in accounting and human resource management with a minor in leadership studies, and her work ethic was noticed by her professors.

“Lisa was a quiet force in the classroom … [and] a true student,” said Ann Servey, professor, coordinator of Cabrini’s accounting program, and Williams’ academic advisor. “She was a very dedicated student, her grade point average was extremely impressive, as Lisa was impressive.”

In reviewing Williams’ previous homework assignments, Zurek commemorated her thoughtfulness and thoroughness. The daughter of immigrant parents from Guyana, “[Lisa] was always talking about human dignity … human rights … and her compassion for people who are affected by tragedies around the world.”

Cabrini University posthumously awarded Williams a bachelor’s degree cum laude in December 2022.

As a person

“For me, she [Lisa] was the best friend I could have asked for,” Neopaney said. “She was friendly, loving, and kind.”

Both Neopaney and McLoughlin agreed Williams did small things that made a huge impact on their lives and the lives of others.

“She was one of the kindest, sweetest people … she always had a smile on her face, no matter what. If she was in a rush, if she was just walking around campus, she would just always light up a room,” said McLoughlin.

Photo of two friends with coffee.
Lisa Williams (right) was a close and meaningful friend to Puja Neopaney (left). Photo from Puja Neopaney.

Williams’ love for those around her was evident. Neopaney recalled whenever she was alone on campus, Williams would offer to walk her back to where she was going, even if Williams was lying comfortably in her dorm room. Williams used to pay for food if they were ever in a pinch, without any hesitation, Neopaney and McLoughlin remembered.

Lauryn Conley, senior accounting major, shared similar experiences. “One time during finals we were trying to do a paper for our one class,” Conley said. Williams made ramen for Conley who had just finished her work shift. “When she [Lisa] came out of the shower, I had ramen in one hand and my laptop in another and was passed out in bed. Lisa was so nice to move it for me and then she even checked to make sure I submitted my [assignment] before passing out.”

Though Conley said Williams teased her about that day for a while, it was a prime example of how Williams was always there and looking out for her.

To us all

Ward also said, at the student-organized vigil held in her memory, “Over and over again, I heard students express having seen her … having a kind word from her here or there, but not having gotten to know her and wishing that they had.”

A selfie of Lisa Williams and friends.
(From left to right): Patrick Heavey, Mariana Cruz-Sanchez, Marrin Specht, Lisa Williams, and Geraldine Brown. Photo by Patrick Heavey.

Known for her love of Marvel Comics heroes and heroines, Williams’ impact on her family, friends, classmates, professors, mentors, and Cabrini’s campus was her own superpower.

There are some who bring a light so great into the world that even after they have gone, the light still remains. Lisa Williams will be remembered for the bright light she was for all she encountered.

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Kyleigh Brunotte

I am a sophomore digital communications and social media major, and business management minor at Cabrini University. I grew up in Brick, NJ with my mom, dad, younger sister, and my Oma. Outside of school, I am a kickboxing instructor at 9Round Brick, NJ, a youth soccer coach, a campus captain of Cabrini's chapter of The Hidden Opponent, and a guest speaker for the NAMI Bucks County organization. Additionally, I am the co-president of the National Society of Leadership and Success and a former member of the Cabrini University women's soccer team. Today, I am an avid fitness and sports enthusiast, as well as a strong advocate for mental health awareness in students and athletes alike. I am a firm believer of always being proud of what you are doing and I hope to use my writing skills to make my corner of the world a better place to be.

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