‘She was going to change the world’

First-year student living in Chown died Tuesday of complications from Addison’s

Jessica Reaume was in her first year of a politics degree.
Jessica Reaume was in her first year of a politics degree.
Credit: 
Supplied

Jessica Reaume wanted to change the world.

Her mother Sarah knows she succeeded.

“She was going to … leave her footprint,” Sarah Reaume said. “Her legacy was the people she touched. She was a gift.”

Jessica, ArtSci ’11, died Tuesday in Kingston General Hospital from complications arising from Addison’s disease.

Addison’s disease is a hormonal disorder in which the adrenal glands weaken and don’t produce the required hormones.

Jessica had been sick with a bad case of flu and went to KGH Saturday evening when her condition worsened. The illness triggered the Addison’s no one knew she had, her mother said.

She was 18 years old.

The Reaume family is originally from Sarnia but moved to the United Arab Emirates in 1997. Jessica’s parents Sarah and Walt and her 15-year-old twin brothers Luke and Jake arrived in Kingston on Monday.

Sarah said the support she encountered at Queen’s confirmed her daughter’s ability to make lasting friendships.

“Sometime between that first of September and the 20th of November she managed to touch enough lives that there were elevators full of students coming to pray and … coming so share with us their experiences and their stories of Jessica.”

Jessica was a passionate social activist, highly engaged in her school and dedicated to her family and friends, Sarah Reaume said.

“Her legacy is just that—it’s the family that she loved without reserve, it is the quality and calibre of the people that she called her friends, it is the humanitarian causes that she worked so tirelessly for and her core belief system that we were all responsible for the world,” she said.

Jessica was part of her high school’s Médecins sans Fronti ères chapter and went to the Hague as a delegate for its Model United Nations.

When she travelled across the world to go to university, her mother said, she got into the habit of phoning home at 4:40 a.m. U.A.E. time to discuss the thesis for her paper and “have a good ol’ gab.”

“I think part of the expat experience … as a family you live in each other’s pockets,” Sarah Reaume said. “We were a very, very close family.” Jessica’s brother Luke said that, at three years older than he and his twin brother Jake, Jessica was a role model all their lives.

“We were always able to come to her with questions,” he said. “She was just always there for anyone.

“Even if she was the new kid, she would make everyone else feel welcome.”

The whiteboard on Jessica’s residence door is covered with comments from friends and floormates. A small cactus plant with pink flowers sits by the door, with a card reading, “You will be remembered and missed.”

Nadia Humayun, Nabil Akel and Tareq Mamlouk all went to high school with Jessica in Dubai. Humayun and Akel, both ArtSci ’11, were at Queen’s with her.

The four of them would hang out together and go to the mall every weekend, Akel said.

“We had a weekly tradition of going to movies together,” he said. “We used to drag her to scary movies.”

Humayun and Akel ended up at Queen’s with her by fluke, Akel said.

“Jess didn’t even tell me she was applying—she didn’t think she would get in,” he said, adding that she was looking forward to Canadian winter.

“She wanted to be there when I saw my first snowfall.”

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