Northwestern community remembers residence director Kristina Richards

Rebecca Savransky, Assistant Campus Editor

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Members of the Northwestern community gathered Tuesday afternoon to commemorate the life of residence director Kristina Richards, remembering her contributions to the University and her strong devotion to friends and family.

Richards had worked at NU since 2003. Before becoming a residence director, she served as an area coordinator and supervised several undergraduate residence halls. She was also a member of the Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence and was trained as a Safe Space Ally and a Transgender Ally.

Friends, family and coworkers nearly filled Vail Chapel to share their memories of Richards and her time at NU.

Chaplain Tim Stevens welcomed attendees with words and prayers before opening up the informal service to anyone who wished to tell stories of Richards’ impact on his or her own life.

“In her work with students and on behalf of students, she left an indelible mark,” Stevens said. “Professionally and personally, she touched many lives.”

Campus minister Tim Higgins spoke first about the kindness and sense of joy Richards brought to the community. Higgins said Richards regularly attended mass at the Sheil Catholic Center and through her work, demonstrated her care and loyalty to the students and her commitment to NU.

Higgins mentioned Richards’ love for her family and ability to make people laugh through her “sense of humor and her silliness.”

“She was just a straight-shooter,” he said. “If she had something to say she would say it. If she thought you needed to be challenged, she would challenge you. My times with Kristina are always times full of laughter.”

Higgins said he will miss Richards’ smile and her strong sense of friendship and loyalty.

Students who worked with Richards during her time at NU remembered her as being welcoming, loyal and professional.

Stephanie Stack (Weinberg ’13) said she worked with Richards as a community assistant and recalled Richards’ ability to deal with sensitive issues and her commitment to each student in need.

“She was so kind and patient and professional,” Stack said. “She clearly was just a beautiful person.”

Other students said Richards’ encouragement and advice had a greater impact than she may even have realized, noting her constant habit of checking up on her residents without them even being aware or asking for help. Students remembered her as someone who saved lives through her persistence and care.

Lisa Currie, director of health promotion and wellness, said although she knew Richards only on a professional level, her commitment to work in Currie’s department far surpassed what was expected. Richards was a Red Watch Band facilitator and volunteered to organize several training sessions.

Currie said Richards was one of the first staff members to request training and was always flexible and willing to step up when needed.

“She told me this was something that she knew she could make a contribution to in a very tangible way,” Currie said. “She was always going above what she was expected to do.”

Students and coworkers also emphasized Richards’ unwavering loyalty to her family, noting her unwillingness to move away from the Chicago area in order to avoid being far away from those with whom she was closest. Those who worked with Richards said she often told stories about her mother’s constant support and how it enabled her to fulfill her own goals.

Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, spoke at the end of the memorial and presented a plaque created for Richards to honor her 10 years of service to NU. Telles-Irvin read the engraving on the plaque and spoke of the strong legacy Richards will leave in the community.

“She was a very good daughter. She was a very good friend. She was a great student advocate. She was a great citizen of this University. She was a great collaborator,” Telles-Irvin said. “The impact was tremendous. The fact that she saved lives, the fact that she pulled students out of their sadness, the fact that she cared so much.”

Email: rebeccasavransky2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @beccasavransky

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