To the Editor:
It is with great sadness that I, along with many members of the Harvard community, struggle to come to terms with Joey Hanzich’s sudden death. I know that many share my shock and heartbreak that we have lost a true friend and great human being.
Part of what makes Joey’s passing so hard to accept is that he was so vibrant and filled with purpose. He was universally known for his positive outlook and boundless enthusiasm, which was visible to anyone from his closest friends to his most casual of acquaintances. I think that everyone who met Joey recognized that he was destined to accomplish great things. The fire in his eyes reflected his passion for improving the world around him.
When we were at Harvard, it was not unusual to see Joey stay after class to engage in thoughtful discourse with his professors. I’ll never forget his excitement when professor Michael Sandel selected him as the only underclassman in the most selective Government Department seminar, a class that fueled his interest in bioethics and public health. Joey was a constant and inspiring presence at the Institute of Politics, and I’ll always remember how deftly he articulated his vision for America’s future in a private audience he and I were granted with Howard Dean, then the frontrunner for the presidential nomination. Joey’s work as a leader of the College Democrats encouraged the civic engagement of many and contributed to the political landscape of this country that he loved so much. Somehow Joey still found time to volunteer; to mentor; and to be a humble, down-to-earth friend.
At institutions filled with accomplished individuals like Harvard, Cambridge or Yale, it can seem unfathomable that one person might impress and inspire his peers — yet Joey did so on a regular basis. One leader of our class put it best, writing that Joey “was definitely one of those people that made me want to be a better person.”
While those of us who knew him might never get over the disappointment that we will not have the opportunity to elect Joey to national office, his parents and brother can be proud that his spirit will live on in all of us that he touched during his short yet meaningful life.
Joey, we will miss you.
The writer is Class Marshal for the Harvard Class of 2006.