In memoriam: Netzali Can PZ ’23

A headshot of a young woman, Netzali Can, smiling
Netzali Can PZ ’23 died during winter break. (Courtesy of Pitzer College)

CW: student death

Netzali Can’s PZ ’23 suitemate Romy Candon PZ ’23 remembers Can as a “ray of sunshine, always laughing.”

“Netzi was a very positive person all over,” Candon said.

Can died over winter break, Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver said in an email to Pitzer students Jan. 15. She was visiting family in Guatemala over break when she had an allergic reaction that proved fatal, he said.

Oliver encouraged students to “keep Netzali’s family in your thoughts during this difficult time.” 

“She was an exceptional person and will be missed greatly,” he added. 

At Pitzer, Can was involved in the Latinx Student Union and Indige-Nation Claremont Scholars, mentored and supported Native American youth in Los Angeles and worked at the Grove House, according to Oliver.

She graduated from Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, California, where she explored a passion for the sciences as president of the environmental club and as a hospital research intern, Oliver added. She was also the captain of her high school cross-country and soccer teams, as well as the captain of her club soccer team.

Can sought to combine her family’s Guatemalan roots with her scientific interests by pursuing a career in public health.

“She wanted to find the intersection of health and indigenous peoples and really help the community,” Candon said.

Can wasn’t afraid to put her bold personality on display — obsessing over chai and sugary holiday drinks at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, going back for bowl after bowl of chicken pozole (a family recipe) at Scripps brunch and once tricking her suitemates into watching a horror movie when they thought they were watching a comedy, Candon said.

“I was like, ‘Oh no,’ because I hate horror movies,” Candon said. “And then she ended up hating it too.”

But Candon also remembered her friend’s authenticity and caring nature.

“You could always count on her to think about you,” she said.

Can’s family held a celebration of life in Oakland on Jan. 25, according to the Arroyo athletic department.

For those affected by Can’s passing, Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services is located at the Tranquada Student Services Center and at 909-621-8202. Students can contact Monsour after-hours through Campus Safety by calling 909-607-2000. 

Pitzer Student Affairs also offers walk-in hours daily from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Oliver said. 7C Chaplains are available at the Chaplains’ Office in the McAlister Center or at 909-621-8685.

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