This obituary has been approved by the Zunguze family for publication in The Student Life.
Tatissa Zunguze had a passion for helping others — leading and inspiring those around her. She was student body president in elementary school, which was also where she developed her early love for science. As one of the top students at The Academy of Math Engineering and Science (AMES) high school in Salt Lake City, Utah, she addressed her graduating classmates with a challenge to explore the world around them in order to leave their mark. The summer after high school she undertook a public health internship at Johns Hopkins University, a trip to Europe with People to People, and was Miss Utah Teen USA runner-up.
Tatissa enrolled in Scripps College in fall 2014. She was beloved at Scripps, and throughout The Claremont Colleges, and her drive for personal excellence and encouraging nature were apparent to all who met her. Recognized as an outstanding student and scholar, Tatissa was a Samella Lewis Scholarship recipient, an accomplishment that honored her academic achievement, excellence in character, and leadership. During the summer of 2016, Tatissa was a part of team that conducted laboratory research on combatting HIV. She sought to combine her perspectives in queer and feminist people of color studies into her research. Without exception, Tatissa’s professors recognized her as a rising star in STEM.
In addition to her academic achievements, Tatissa was a student leader, mentor, and advocate who worked to create a more equitable community on campus. Along with other students, Tatissa’s advocacy facilitated expansion of Scripps program and resources for first-generation students and the preservation of the Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE) focus on social justice and equity. Her classmates and fellow Wanawake Weusi members considered her an integral and esteemed member of the group and a role model for other students. Even those who did not know Tatissa well were touched by her generous and compassionate spirit and her genuine care for others.
Tatissa’s leadership extended to Scripps Associated Students (SAS), where she was involved in student governance and served as the chair of the SAS Faculty/Staff Relations Committee, helping to organize Staff of the Year awards and create connections among students, faculty and staff. As a Resident Assistant (RA), Tatissa was a familiar and dependable resource for students seeking information, support, and insight into life at Scripps. In her role as an office assistant for SCORE, she was a strong advocate for its leaders and the student constituencies it serves.
Tatissa was passionate about social justice and advocated for creating space and voice for the underserved and marginalized. Her commitment to her fellow students was unsurpassed. Tatissa was a consistent voice for impactful structural change, fearless in her insistence that Scripps be a place of sustenance and support for all its students.
Tatissa is missed and leaves behind scores of family members, friends and people who admired her irrepressible spirit. She will be remembered for her infectious smile, her playfulness, her personal excellence, adventurousness, and her ability to bring people together through her compassion.