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Fordham Mourns the Passing of Anne-Sophie Neumeister

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Anne-Sophie Neumeister, an August 2021 graduate of Fordham’s master’s degree program in public media whom professors called “thoughtful” and “sharp as a tack,” died suddenly on Monday, September 6, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She was 23 years old.

“Anne-Sophie was not only young—so very young—but also a kind and luminous presence in the lives of all who knew her at Fordham,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “A gifted communicator and a thoughtful, engaged student, she came to Fordham because she valued what we value: care for the individual student and preparation for effecting positive social change. She thrived in our program and made it better through her presence.”

Neumeister was born in Austria and moved with her family to Bethesda, Maryland, when she was 2 years old. When she was 5, the family moved to the New Haven, Connecticut, area, where she attended St. Thomas’s Day School and Hamden Hall Country Day School. Although she spoke little English upon arriving in the United States, when she began preschool, she found alternate ways to communicate with her peers.

“Since she couldn’t verbally communicate with them, she was just running with them,” her mother, Veronique Neumeister, said. “She knew that she needed to communicate, so she tried to find a way.”

Neumeister began her undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication in May 2020. That fall, she entered the public media program in Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

According to Garrett Broad, Ph.D., an associate professor who was the director of the program at the time, Neumeister was “the archetypal student that we look for.” He noted that in her application, she wrote that she had a “desire to be part of positive social change.” In peer evaluations following a group project in Broad’s Public Media Theory and Practice course, Neumeister’s classmates gave her a perfect score, Broad said, calling her “focused,” “responsive,” “dedicated,” and “reliable.”

Beth Knobel, Ph.D., an associate professor and the director of graduate studies in the Department of Communication and Media Studies, agreed, calling Neumeister “the ideal student for our program.”

Anne-Sophie Neumeister wearing cap and gown at Fordham's graduation.During her time in the master’s program, Neumeister worked as a public relations specialist for Neuritek Therapeutics, a medical startup that aims to “reduce the risk, time and cost to bring next-generation mental health therapies to market for people suffering from psychiatric disorders,” according to the company’s website.

For her capstone project at Fordham, Neumeister developed a detailed communications plan for Neuritek as the company worked on the development of a new drug. Kellie Castruita-Specter, an adjunct professor who taught Neumeister in her Marketing and Branding in the Public Interest course and became her capstone adviser, said that the two connected when they met.

“She was brilliant. She just got it,” Castruita-Specter said, adding that Neumeister was “really gentle, really sweet.”

Rachel Meyer, who graduated from the program with Neumeister in August, echoed those sentiments, and said that their friendship bloomed despite seeing each other only on Zoom at the outset of the academic year.

“From our remote classes, I could tell that she was a kind person,” Meyer said in a written statement. “She was passionate about helping others … [and]  was always there to offer a reassuring word when you were doubting yourself.”

Meyer and Neumeister would go on to intern together over the summer at LifeSci Communications, a communications and marketing agency focused on life science and medical technology.

Last month, shortly after graduating, they were both offered full-time positions with the company, and Neumeister began a job as social and digital media associate, a role in which she researched and wrote social media content for clients, compiled analytics reports, and provided recommendations for engagement, among other duties.

Her academic and professional achievements came as no surprise to her family.

“She tackled everything head-on,” Veronique said. “When she decided to proceed with something, she did it with all her energy and all her enthusiasm and everything she had to give.”

Her father, Alex Neumeister, said that while his daughter took her pursuits seriously, she was also fun to be around, with a sharp sense of humor and a strong concern for others.

“She was very considerate of the needs of other people,” he said.

Neumeister was a Anne-Sophie Neumeister smiling.swimmer in high school and enjoyed horseback riding as a child, and her penchant for staying physically active carried over to her time living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, during the Fordham program. According to her parents, she would often bike from Brooklyn to Central Park, jump rope in the park, and then bike right back.

She was also interested in digital photography and maintained a deep love for Austrian chocolate and desserts, requesting a special Austrian cake from her mother for each of her birthdays. She stayed connected to her family in Austria, as well, and her parents said she loved to visit her aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother there. She bonded closely with her family dogs growing up, and around the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her roommates in Brooklyn took in an abandoned kitten, according to the new student form she filled out at the beginning of the master’s program.

“She lit up the world of everyone who knew her,” Knobel said.

In addition to her parents, Neumeister is survived by two younger brothers, Nicolas (Nuki) and Timothy (Timmy).

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, September 17, at Saint Jude Parish, located at 147 Main Street in Waltham, Massachusetts, followed by interment at Newton Cemetery in Newton, Massachusetts, and a reception at the family’s home.

Members of the Fordham family should feel free to take advantage of the University’s support services for help with coping with this news:

Resources

Counseling and Psychological Services
Lincoln Center
140 West 62nd Street, Room G-02
Phone: 212-636-6225

Rose Hill
O’Hare Hall, Basement
Phone: 718-817-3725

Campus Ministry
Rose Hill
McGinley Center 102
Phone: 718-817-4500
cm@fordham.edu

Lincoln Center
Lowenstein 217
Phone: 212-636-6267
campusminlc@fordham.edu

University Health Services
health@fordham.edu
Lincoln Center: 212-636-7160
Rose Hill: 718-817-4160

Human Resources
Rose Hill
Faculty Memorial Hall, Room 506
Phone: 718-817-4930
hr@fordham.edu

 The Office of Human Resources provides faculty, administrators, Local 153 members, and Local 810 members with professional, confidential services to help employees and family members address a variety of personal, family, life, and work-related issues. Learn more about the LifeWorks and CARE 24 employee assistance programs.

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