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Montclair State Mourns Graduate Student Death from COVID-19

by Jenna Sundel

Montclair State University students are mourning the loss of fellow student Jose Fernandez, who died on April 3 due to complications from COVID-19.

He was a resident of Verona, New Jersey, and participated in the online master’s of business administration (MBA) program. He was 49 years old and had no underlying health issues.

Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Karen Pennington sent condolences to Fernandez’s families and friends.

“The university was deeply saddened to hear of [Fernandez’s] death,” Pennington said. “Our sincere sympathies are extended to his family and friends during this very difficult time.”

Nicole Koppel, the director of the online MBA program, said that Fernandez will be missed in the program.

“According to many of his professors and peers, [Fernandez] was a great classmate and excellent student as demonstrated by his online class engagement, project team leadership and strong academic performance,” Koppel said.

Dr. Yam Limbu, a marketing professor at Montclair State, had Fernandez as a student and said he was shocked to hear about his passing.

“[Fernandez] was an outstanding, diligent and competent student,” Limbu said. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to [Fernandez’s] family and friends. May his gentle soul rest in peace.”

Many of his classmates also shared memories they have of Fernandez. Anabella Poland said that she had never met Fernandez, but they had been in the same cohort since October 2018.

Poland noticed that Fernandez had stopped posting in the online discussion boards, but did not think much of it since many classmates have been posting assignments late as they try to adjust to a new routine. On April 12, Poland received an email from one of her professors which notified the class of Fernandez’s passing.

“It hit our group really hard,” Poland said. “[Fernandez] was one of us, dedicating an enormous amount of time to better himself while being a dad to two young children, a husband and a dedicated full-time professional. He was six months away from graduating with an MBA.”

Bensy Kochupurackal was also in Fernandez’s cohort and often worked with him on assignments.

“For any assignment where we could choose, he was my designated partner,” Kochupurackal said. “If either of us needed to bounce information off, we would give each other a call. I am so happy I was able to have that.”

Kochupurackal says as the cohort continues, they will never forget the impact Fernandez had on the group.

“[Fernandez] was such a hilarious, genuine and motivated individual,” Kochupurackal said. “He will truly be missed. I know we as a cohort will remember him, as we continue forward. Rest in peace [Fernandez].”

Geover Fernandez, the brother of Jose Fernandez, created a gofundme memorial page to help raise money for his family.

“We are raising funds to help pay for his funeral expenses and other related costs for Alba, Daniel and Camila as they try to figure out life without Jose,” Geover Fernandez said on the gofundme page.

Many members of Montclair State University have donated to the memorial fund. The family was able to achieve their financial goal in a matter of minutes.

“This outpouring of love for my brother’s family, kids and my family, has being overwhelming,” Geover Fernandez said in an update. “We all know that no amount of money will compensate or replace Jose’s loss, but one thing is clear, the amount of love and support lifts our spirits, it gives hope, trust and love towards humanity.”








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