Eva Buchanan-Cates ’19 remembers putting together a gingerbread house with her roommate Lydia White ’19. She said they were like two halves of the same brain. White designed the house and Buchanan-Cates executed the fine details. What they created in the end was a work of art — a gingerbread house with swirls of frosting on the roof, chocolate and gumdrops lining the walls, and a heart fixed above the doorway.
For Buchanan-Cates, this moment defines her relationship with White.
“In the sense that I was always paying attention to small details, and she was able to view things very holistically,” Buchanan-Cates wrote in a message to the Collegian. “The gingerbread house really represented what we were good at, and what amazing things could result from working together.”
White died last Thursday due to injuries she sustained while studying abroad in India. She will be remembered among her friends as an introspective person who cared truly and deeply about the world around her. Buchanan-Cates, who met White during her first year at Kenyon, called her “sage Lydia” because of how often she would engage in deep conversation topics with her and her friends.
She also recalled how much White cared about children.
“She loved the kindergarten library class, because it combined two of her favorite things: reading and kids,” Buchanan-Cates wrote. “She would love to read to kids and form bonds with them.”
Buchanan-Cates said that White was often sentimental. She used to play a game with White where they would both say what one possession they would take with them if there were a fire in Caples. Buchanan-Cates said she would take her glasses, while White said she would take her teddy bear.
“It kind of showed how logistical I was compared to her sentimentality,” Buchanan-Cates said.
Alison Georgescu ’19 remembers White in a similar way. She met her during the Writing and Thinking Pre-Orientation her first year and said that they were friends ever since. Georgescu described how she would always be right about the weirdest things.
“She would take these insane hypotheses and just find a way to be right about them that no one else could think of,” Georgescu said. She recalled how White used to insist that Pinterest, a popular blogging site, was actually “Pin-interest.”
“She wasn’t really wrong,” Georgescu said.
Marne Ausec, director for the Center for Global Engagement, said that her heart goes out to White’s family and friends.
“As you would understand, the loss of any Kenyon student hits the community very, very hard. When it’s a student on [Off-Campus Study], we do consider those students our students,” Ausec said. “At this time, quite honestly, we’re more concerned for how her family and friends are doing.” Ausec said White was in India for the International Honors Program with the School for International Training. She was a political science major.
Buchanan-Cates wrote in a message that she became particularly close with White after they decided to be roommates. She described how they wanted to practice what it would be like to be in a room together. So they spent hours talking to each other, just to see how it would work out. Buchanan-Cates said she never knew how perfect it would be.
“I think that words really can’t describe how kind-hearted Lydia was,” Buchanan-Cates wrote. “I really wish these memories could do her justice.”