He was a person who loved seeing other people have fun, who loved making friends and who researched the architectural details of his residential college just because he wanted to know.
As news spread Sunday afternoon that Andre Narcisse ’12 had died that morning, his peers remembered him as an energetic, loyal and intelligent friend who was known for his lofty aspirations as much as for his corny jokes. Though the cause of his death is not yet known, friends said they would honor the Branford College sophomore’s memory by preserving their friendships with one another.
“He would want us to become as much as we can be,” Jonah Quinn ’12 said as he and more than 20 of Narcisse’s closest friends at Yale gathered in Battell Chapel’s Lovett Room Sunday evening to share stories about Narcisse.
Hailing from the small Long Island town of Roosevelt, N.Y., Narcisse took pride in his Haitian heritage, his friends said, as well as in his diploma from Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was a varsity wrestler. In high school, he was also a finalist for the 2008 National Achievement Scholarship, which honors outstanding black students.
Though he loved talking about cigars, politics, music and philosophy, classmates said, he dreamed of becoming a Wall Street executive and planned to major in economics.
Narcisse, 19, was known for his motivation and drive, Richard Johnson ’12 said. Narcisse had a wide range of academic interests but chose economics because it “had the most potential to get the furthest,” Johnson said.
Narcisse’s friends agreed he relied on both natural intelligence and constant hard work to succeed in classes such as Introduction to Political Philosophy, Intermediate Macroeconomics and even Arabic. Despite his fluency in French, Narcisse wanted to learn Arabic because he believed it was becoming an important global language, Chloe Zale ’12 said. From following business news to listening to new rap artists to researching electronic music, Narcisse put a premium on being as knowledgeable as he could, friends said.
Zale said Narcisse was one of the most driven students she knew at Yale.
“He wasn’t afraid to take the hard classes,” Zale said.
Neither was he afraid to bounce into a room, shake hands with a stranger and, in turn, immediately include his new acquaintance in his circle of friends. As a group of his friends swapped stories about Narcisse on Sunday evening in Battell, they realized that many of them would not be friends if he had not introduced them. They recalled his generosity, his loyalty and his constant smile.
Though Narcisse had many friends, they said he was always aware of even small details in each of their lives and valued each one as an individual. For example, though Narcisse would often send YouTube links to his friends via e-mail, the messages were never sent en masse, but always tailored to each person’s interests, Kyle Alpern ’12 said.
Narcisse had a hug and a smile for everyone, Emily Shulan ’12 said, remembering how he used to lean out of his window to greet her as she walked back to Branford after class.
He was genuinely interested in other people, Hope Kronman ’12 said, adding that Narcisse was something of a motivational speaker for them. He gave “great” advice, his freshman year roommate Guillermo Peralta ’12 said.
“He was really able to relate to all of us,” Peralta added.
Narcisse’s friends agreed that he was enthusiastic and saw everything as an adventure. Johnson recounted Narcisse’s eagerness to help fellow Branfordians construct an igloo in Vanderbilt courtyard last winter — a project Henry Grabar Sage ’12 said Narcisse would have called “epic.”
“Epic” was one of his favorite words, Grabar Sage said.
“It was either ‘epic’ or ‘not a problem,’ ” Grabar Sage said.
And though friends said they rarely found Narcisse’s jokes funny, they always laughed at his attempts to explain in detail why the jokes had been humorous to him.
At the gathering Sunday evening, friends all said maintaining relationships was important to Narcisse, who loved bringing people together. Though they said keeping in touch has been hard so far this year, Zale added that, after this experience, they will spend more time together.
“He would really engage you in conversation,” Quinn said. “He wanted to affect people and teach people.”