Over 100 members of the Elon community joined in tears, laughter and hugs at in Numen Lumen at 4:30 p.m. on May 8 to mourn the loss of Jennifer Fish, associate director of Elon’s Teaching Fellows Program. Fish died unexpectedly on the morning of May 7 due to illness. 

Fish was known to greet everyone with a smile and drop everything to see who stepped into her office. Junior teaching fellow Lindsey Hefty said the program won’t be the same without Fish’s presence. 

“She was always there for me, laughed with me, hyped me up before a test or celebrated a life update with me,” Hefty said during the event. “She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and she extended her kindness to everyone who walked in her office.”

Hefty said she hopes to honor Fish’s memory by being like her: by having unconditional love for everyone — even strangers.

Associate Director of the Teaching Fellows Programs Jennifer Fish died on May 7 due to an illness. Photo from Elon University.

Retired Director of the Teaching Fellows Program Glenda Crawford said Fish helped her through tough times and has left a definite legacy on campus. 

“She was the most joyful and happy person I’ve known. She enjoyed life, loved her family and loved Elon — and loved all of you,” Crawford said. 

Ben Rogers, a 2019 Elon Teaching Fellows alum, attended the gathering and said he would not be standing in front of the crowd if it weren’t for Fish. 

“She kept me at Elon, she was my rock, she was my Elon mom,” Rogers said. “There was no one on this campus that had the warmth and the smile that she had.”

Rogers also echoed other speakers in the crowd by saying that Fish talked about her daughter, Samantha, all the time. 

“I stayed in touch with her since I graduated, and she still talked about you all the time, even only having three conversations with her,” Rogers said. “She was incredibly proud of all the awesome stuff that you’re doing, and this community here is excited to see all of your accomplishments as you move on.”

Sophomore teaching fellow Leann Beckham is an office worker in the Teaching Fellow Office. She said Fish was the reason she will be studying abroad and she was someone that supported her greatly. 

“She was always your No. 1 cheerleader,” Beckham said. “She wanted to know what was going on with you, and she wanted to cheer you on.” 

Beckham said the office, as well as trips to BJ’s for snacks, are not going to be the same anymore. 

Lisa Thompson, an earlier colleague of Fish, worked with her in the 1990’s. They were both young teachers at Smith Elementary School. But just five years ago, they reconnected at Elon within the School of Education.

“She had the reputation of being a fun, young teacher,” Thompson said. “Her wit, her laughter and love of students have carried over to her position at Elon. She made the Teaching Fellows space a place for all new teachers.”