Bess Rosenzweig was worldly, in every sense of the word. She was an avid traveler, and she and her mother were vacationing in Kenya when the two were killed in a plane crash July 25, just 10 weeks after Bess graduated from Georgetown College.
Rosenzweig, 22, seemed destined for a life abroad. Born in London and raised in Cambridge, Mass., Rosenzweig had visited virtually every corner of the globe, from Venezuela and Bali to Greece and Sydney, where she studied as a junior. She was particularly fond of Africa, and was contemplating a job at a nonprofit in South Africa at the time of her death.
A psychology major with a minor in French and certificate in African studies, Rosenzweig was known for being passionate and thoughtful, enamored with exploring new places but disenchanted by some aspects of modern society. She was not particularly involved on campus, although her academic advisor, Sandra Calvert, said that Georgetown’s emphasis on social justice resonated withRosenzweig.
“I always thought of Bess as a Renaissance woman,” said Calvert, who also taught Rosenzweig in two psychology courses. “I think Bess was someone who always had her own inner voice. She had a clear vision of her own life and what she wanted out of it.”
Rosenzweig enjoyed traveling with her mother, Claire Clube, who was 48. They were nearing the end of a two-week vacation in Kenya when their small plane crashed en route to the capital city of Nairobi, killing the two passengers and the pilot. Their bodies were recovered three days after the crash, the cause of which is unknown.
Although a privileged socio-economic background allowed Rosenzweig to travel so extensively, her time spent abroad was usually unlike that of the average tourist.
One friend recalled a trip to Jamaica over spring break, during which Rosenzweig befriended a Rastafarian service worker and spoke with him for hours while her friends relaxed at the pool. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with a high school friend to raise money for a wildlife fund and Kenyan school.
Rosenzweig developed a close friendship with her roommate, Amy Lewis (COL ’13), and the two were companions at Georgetown and in many of Rosenzweig’stravels, including their semester abroad and a road trip to the West Coast after graduation.
“She was inspired by Kenya — the landscape, the people, the wildlife,” Lewis said. “Bess felt like the people were open, free, adventurous and non-judgmental. She wanted to live there eventually.”
Rosenzweig spoke several languages, including Swahili, which she studied for three semesters under Georgetown professor Vivian Lusweti. Lusweti said the language came naturally to Rosenzweig, who was known as dedicated and thoughtful in the classroom.
Her extensive time abroad was evident in her everyday life, often discreetly. She was known for wearing a pair of Converse sneakers with elaborate beading that she acquired in Kenya. In Calvert’s “Children and Technology” course, Rosenzweig remarked that she didn’t particularly miss technology while traveling in less developed parts of the world.
Friends described her as a free spirit, someone who found joy in simplicity and was passionate about learning for learning’s sake. Rosenzweig was not caught up in the frenzied job search, and although she considered moving to Cape Town or New York City, she did not have any definite career plans. Yet despite the absence of a specific professional ambition, friends noted Rosenzweig’s enthusiasm for the next chapter in her life.
“Georgetown is a hyperactive and achievement-oriented community,” said Sam Schneider (COL ’13), a friend of Rosenzweig’s and former member of The Hoya’s board of directors. “Bess valued a slow pace of life, caring more about spending time with people she loved and doing things she loved than grinding to reach some professional or academic goal that would advance her resume.”
Caley Beard, who became close friends with Rosenzweig in high school, recalled how much pleasure Rosenzweig took in simple things like her mother’s banana chocolate chip muffins. AlthoughRosenzweig enjoyed normal activities for someone her age, she could also engage in coversations for hours, whether with close friends or complete strangers.
“Her friends were her extended family,” said Anna Christiansen (COL ’13), who met Rosenzweig in 2009. “Her tremendous ability to read and understand people was reflected by how many on campus loved her.”
A memorial service for Rosenzweig is scheduled for Sept. 28 at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.