Cassandra Karpinski, a junior television-radio and English double major, died Monday morning while returning to London from a weekend trip in Amsterdam.
Karpinski was spending the spring semester at the Ithaca College London Center. Her sister, Olivia Karpinski, said Cassandra was returning from a trip to Amsterdam with friends. After realizing she forgot her purse and passport onboard, Karpinski ran up the stairs of the airplane and collapsed at 10:30 a.m. London time Monday,
Olivia Karpinski said.
The cause of death was determined to be a heart attack, according to Olivia Karpinski.
Karpinski’s death shook several students at the college. She met many of her friends freshman year and maintained the friendships throughout her three years at the school.
Junior Jenessa Fisk was in the same freshman orientation group as Karpinski and the two kept in touch throughout the summer, she said. Fisk said they were surprised when they arrived at the college and happened to be living in the same hall. They became very close friends that year, she said.
Fisk said Karpinski would drive her and other friends home for school breaks because they all lived in New England. One of these road trips gave Fisk her
favorite memory of Karpinski.
“We were jamming out to the Spice Girls and we kind of missed a turn in Albany to take us up to New England, and we ended up in New York City,” Fisk said.
Olivia Karpinski said after their mother passed away from a heart condition in the fall, she, Cassandra and their younger sister all got tested for heart problems.
“Cassandra had a minor, nonobstructive [heart problem],” Olivia Karpinski said. “It had never really given her any trouble before, and they said it never would.”
While in London, Karpinski was interning at Peace News. A 2004 graduate of Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., Cassandra was also a staff writer for The Ithacan and a resident assistant in both the Terraces and Emerson Hall.
“She was a go-getter,” Olivia Karpinski said. “She did more in her 20 years of life than most people do in a lifetime.”
Michael Scully, assistant professor of journalism, taught Karpinski in a journalism class last spring.
“She was always in good humor. She was always sort of laughing,” Scully said.
At the beginning of each semester, Scully’s students fill out information cards, which include career aspirations, interests and heroes.
“You can tell a lot about a person based on who their heroes are,” Scully said.
On her index card, Karpinski listed her father, John Karpinski, and Karen Hall, a former writing professor at the college, as her heroes.
She put “traveling anywhere” as one of her interests and “international investigative journalism — travel!” as what she wanted to do with her life.
Olivia Karpinski said her sister was having the time of her life in London.
Junior Amanda Goldsmith said she and Karpinski shared a love of travel. She spent time with Karpinski at the college and in Australia.
“We always joked about running away to Italy,” Goldsmith said.
Olivia Karpinski said because Cassandra had such a wonderfully big personality, it made the news of her death even more of a shock.
“She knew what she was doing. She knew where she was going. She was just like the life of the party,” Olivia Karpinski said. “That’s why I think her death is so overwhelming to so many people. She just made a big impact on everyone she met.”
No service arrangements have been made, but the family is working with a local funeral home in New Hampshire. Aside from a meeting for the community with staff from the Counseling Center and Office of the Chaplains last Monday at the Muller Chapel, no on-campus memorials have been announced.