Kelly Herron, a Minnesota native and senior software engineering student at Loyola, is remembered by friends and family as a hard worker with an affinity for coding and pizza. Kelly, who was 22, died March 24.
Kelly’s parents shared fond memories they have of her — notably, a family vacation to Florida this past spring break, two weeks before Kelly’s death, according to her mother, Joanne Herron.
“Her and her sister acted like little kids,” Joanne Herron said.
Kelly’s parents also remembered her 21st birthday celebration, which took place in Las Vegas last year.
“My biggest win in a slot machine in Vegas, she was sitting next to me,” Mike Herron, said. “She was very good luck.”
Griffin Warren and Colleen Roemer, two senior Loyola students and friends of Kelly’s since their first year, said they remembered her as a quiet person, but also as someone with a sharp wit and a mischievous side after getting to know her.
Kelly’s passion for coding and software was evident. She made phone background wallpapers for fun. Warren, a communication studies major, remembered Kelly as often venturing into tech giant Apple’s online help forums and answering people’s questions to amuse herself.
She had an obsession with Apple, Warren, 21, said.
“[To her,] you were wrong if you weren’t also obsessed with Apple,” Warren joked. She said she expected Kelly would’ve no doubt worked for Apple one day.
“She would’ve physically fought her way into Apple,” Warren said.
Dominique “Nieky” Allen, a former classmate and teacher’s assistant of Kelly’s, said Kelly worked as a developer for a startup of his. Allen, a master’s student studying computer science at Loyola, said he was impressed with Kelly’s work ethic. His colleagues doubted her initially, since she was quiet during the interview process, but he told them he had faith in her abilities, Allen said.
“We were pretty blown away,” Allen said. “She was consistently outperforming everyone on the team.”
Allen said he regretted he didn’t have the chance to be more social with her.
“We only got to see her come out of her shell a few weeks before she passed,” Allen said.
Warren said Kelly was a pizza fanatic — she’d eat it once or twice a day at Loyola’s dining halls. She said Kelly counteracted the diet with a love for constantly working out, a habit Warren said she’d probably kept up from her high school swim team days.
“She was one of those people who wore yoga pants every day, not just because they were comfortable, but also because she was probably going to the gym,” Roemer, 22, said.
Mike Herron said Kelly was supportive of her teammates who were competing for her spot on her high school swim team.
“Kelly was one of the most open-minded people I’ve ever known,” Mike Herron said. “She wanted success for herself, but she wanted success for everyone around her, even if it meant she didn’t have success.”
Kelly’s mother said she loved her daughter’s visits home from college, family vacations and just hanging out with her and the family.
George K. Thiruvathukal, a Loyola computer science professor, said he taught Herron in two courses: History of Computing and Software Engineering.
“Kelly was one of the best and brightest students and a genuine pleasure to have in class,” Thiruvathukal said in a email sent to The Phoenix.
“Nothing we say or do can bring her back, but we would all want her family to know how much of an impact she had in and out of the classroom and that she was a true star in the making.”
After an investigation into her passing, Kelly’s death was ruled a suicide. Her parents said they didn’t want to comment the specifics.
In an email to students, the university offered resources to students affected by the tragedy.
“On the lakeside campuses, Wellness Center (773-508-2530) and Campus Ministry (773-508-2200) staff members are available to assist those in need on an individual basis,” Campus Ministry said in the email.
Kelly Herron will be sorely missed by her friends and family.
“We loved her dearly and we’re gonna miss her and … we loved her,” Joanne Herron said.
Loyola’s Wellness Center offers suicide prevention resources, and there is a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.