By Rachel Morford, news staff
Jake Thompson, a Northeastern freshman best remembered for his charm, confidence and sincere personality, died unexpectedly March 5 in Boston. He was 18 years old.
Thompson’s friends and family valued the ease with which Thompson formed connections to others.
“If there’s anyone who always had an open heart and an open mind, always open to everybody, it would be Jake,” said Pavan Reddy, Thompson’s friend and a freshman business administration major. “His ability to befriend everybody was almost supernatural.”
Born April 22, 1998, in Toronto, Thompson completed most of his primary and secondary education at the prestigious private school Upper Canada College (UCC). At UCC, Thompson participated in many sports, including golf, tennis and skiing.
During his senior year, Thompson lived and studied abroad in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. There, he attended Neuchâtel Junior College (NJC), a unique one-year program for pre-university students. In an e-mail to the Northeastern community, D’Amore-McKim School of Business Dean Hugh G. Courtney quoted an essay Thompson wrote on his experience at NJC.
“In his Northeastern application, Jake called [attending NJC] ‘a pivotal point in my personal growth’ which was ‘both daunting and exciting,’” Courtney wrote. “Jake learned a new language, traveled independently and felt pushed ‘well beyond (his) comfort zone,’ all things that he believed would prepare him for his next academic challenge.”
Thompson’s time at NJC reflected his adventurous approach to life, a quality which defined many memories that Thompson’s friends have of him.
“Every day had a weird story or a funny experience and we were always sharing them with each other,” Nicholas Franco, Thompson’s friend and roommate, said in an e-mail to The News. “Life with Jake was never dull, and that was something that I could always have a good laugh about with my roommate.”
Although he entered Northeastern as a finance major and intended to work in finance later in life, Franco said Thompson was planning to switch to a major that fit him better: International affairs.
“He was very excited to make the switch and we all knew that it suited him perfectly based on how he talked about it,” said Franco, a freshman international business major. “He was a world traveler and was always up to date on current events. He wanted to understand the world.”
Reddy said Thompson embodied the nature of a true traveler in how he approached the world. He said it was likely that Thompson’s experience at NJC drove him to pursue a new major.
“Dealing with issues on a global scale was something that, while some kids don’t take to doing that, he embraced that challenge,” Reddy said. “Embraced global challenges, connecting cultures. That was something I could tell he had a penchant for.”
A natural athlete and music enthusiast, Thompson was dedicated to his favorite teams and was known to get excited whenever he discovered a new musician. Reddy said Thompson’s musical passions transcended normal enjoyment.
“Something not a lot of people knew about him was that Jake wasn’t just someone who listened to the music, he actually read into the words,” he said. “Music to Jake was kind of an escape.”
On Legacy.com, individuals who knew Thompson had the opportunity to share favorite memories and their condolences in his guestbook. Alec Sudit, a junior majoring in physical therapy and Thompson’s fall semester resident assistant (RA), praised Thompson on his incredible people skills.
“I am pretty sure Jake knew at bare minimum the entire building of 400 people, and when I asked him how he got to know everyone so quickly, all he told me was ‘I just talk. Plus, come on, it’s me,’” Sudit wrote.
Unlike many individuals starting college, Thompson never shied away from contact with his RAs, Sudit said.
“The first night he was on campus, he knocked on my door and tells me, ‘Hey Alec, I just wanted to let you know that I’m really into music and I play it really loud, but if it’s ever too loud let me know so I don’t bother anyone,’” Sudit wrote. “Most people try to avoid their RA, but Jake’s personality kept him from needing to keep his distance.”
Similarly, Franco said he appreciated the sincere interest Thompson showed in other people’s lives. Having run track and field throughout high school, Franco was determined to join Northeastern’s team. Thompson supported this endeavor, Franco said, showing interest and enthusiasm whenever Franco trained and ran by himself.
“Looking back, I realize he never had to reach out like he did,” Franco said. “He did not have to talk with me about my runs. He did not have to talk about his high school attempt to chug milk and then run a mile, only to end up throwing up in the middle of it. He did not have to have the long conversations that we shared, relating my struggle with running to his experience with skiing. But that was just Jake. He was the type of person to reach out and bond with others: His ability to make friends and make you feel happy was second to none.”
Thompson’s impact on his friends’ and family’s lives is profound and enduring.
“Transitioning to college is crazy enough as it is,” Franco said. “But with Jake as my roommate, he made that process a hell of a lot easier. And for that, I am indebted to Jake. Our friendship is one that I will treasure forever.”
Jake is survived by his mother Lisa Thompson; his father Chuck Thompson; his brother Cole Thompson; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
In lieu of flowers, Thompson’s family has requested that contributions be made to the Jake Thompson Memorial Fund, a charity managed by the Toronto Foundation. According to the donation page, Thompson’s immediate family will send the fund to a destination that will honor Thompson’s memory.
Support for grieving Northeastern students is available through WeCare and University Health and Counseling Services.
Photo courtesy Pavan Reddy