“Fuzzy socks, plaid shirts, cowgirl hats, boots, belt buckles and horses” are just a few things that remind Elizabethtown junior Mindy Geesaman of her best friend, Arianna Krayo. This may seem strange at first, until you talk to anybody who knew Arianna and see that they would also form the same list. So it should come as no surprise that everyone remembers Arianna’s strongest qualities as being uniquely genuine, truly caring and an amazing friend. Absolutely no one can dispute that Arianna will be greatly missed here at Elizabethtown College, since her untimely death over fall break.
Arianna began her education at Etown a little over two years ago. During her first year at Etown, she was in a Living Learning Community and first-year seminar led by Dr. Michele Kozimor-King, associate professor of sociology, called Simple Living. It was immediately evident to those in her First-Year Seminar that she was a refreshingly honest and genuine person. For example, during summer orientation, before her first year even began, Arianna shared that she worked at the Land of the Little Horses Farm Park, a stable for miniature horses. Kozimor-King said, “I had a horse, and during the orientation, I brought that up.” Arianna was so excited that she invited Kozimor-King to bring her daughter to come visit her at work. Kozimor-King said, laughing, “You know how people say, ‘Oh you should come visit me!’ Do they mean it? No. But when she said things, she meant it.”
Arianna continued to call and text her future FYS professor to check in and see when she was coming to visit, over a large part of the summer until Kozimor-King finally did, having realized Arianna’s genuine intentions.
Everyone who met Arianna during her time at Etown was touched by her passionate energy. This happened to be an extraordinarily wide range of people, considering the number of clubs in which Arianna was involved with. Arianna was a Community Fellow of the Schreiber Quadrangle and the Hackman Apartments, a mentor at the Milton Hershey School and a participant in Called to Lead. She also participated in Relay for Life and danced in Emotion. Though her spread of social activities was wide, she was not at all spread thin. Junior Lizzy VanBuskirk, a good friend of Arianna’s, said, “When Arianna made a decision that she wanted to do something, she would put everything she had into it. And she got involved in a lot of different things, but it was always whole-heartedly.”
During Arianna’s time at Etown, she proved to be an amazingly motivated and hard-working student. According to her mother, Nancy Krayo, Arianna “loved science” and ever since she had surgery on her knee as a child, she admired the work of anesthesiologists. According to Nancy, Arianna thought of becoming an elementary school teacher because of her love for children.
However, she also wanted to become a doctor so she could help people of all ages. Her mother added that Arianna chose the goal of becoming an anesthesiologist especially because she did not want to have to “cut people up,” not being particularly fond of the gore and blood of surgery. According to Arianna’s friends and current Etown juniors Geesaman, VanBuskirk and Megan Shuck, Arianna was excitedly planning to go on to medical school.
Considering how tough Arianna was known to be, it seems that anything she had dreamt up for her future could have been possible. VanBuskirk said, “She was one of those people that, if she saw a group and somebody needed to step up and take control of the situation, or help out, she was the first one to do it.” Kozimor-King dubbed her “one of my point people on the floor” in the LLC because “she rose up to that.” Geesaman has fond memories of the time that she and Arianna went to the Field of Screams together, and jokingly stated, “Let me tell you, she was definitely the man there because I was holding onto her arm for dear life. She had to take the lead, because I was like ‘I cannot do this!’”
VanBuskirk and Geesaman also recalled a time when a friend’s car was stuck in the snow, and along with coming up with the practical idea of packing down the snow instead of removing it from under the tire, “Arianna was pretty much single-handedly pushing the car,” VanBuskirk said. Arianna’s “tough girl” attitude branched from her strong country-girl roots.
Arianna loved horses and anything country. As Shuck said, “Cowboy boots, her leather belt, her cowgirl hat and her flannel: that was her.” Arianna loved all animals; her family has five cats, two dogs and a hamster, but she especially loved horses. According to her mom, Arianna worked at the Land of Little Horses for seven seasons. Arianna’s friend and Etown sophomore Owen Howson said that, while Arianna dreamed of becoming an anesthesiologist, she had an additional future goal. He said that she spoke often of having a quaint, white picket-fenced house on a farm with livestock, including horses, cattle, goats, dogs and cats. According to Howson, she planned on handling and caring for the animals while she assigned her boyfriend, Sam, to “tend to the crops.”
Howson only knew Arianna for about six weeks, yet they grew close over their love for country music and horses, and despite their short time as friends, “she still had a huge affect on me,” he said about her constant smile and “great laugh.”
Beneath her weathered cowboy boots, Arianna was an amazingly generous, warm-hearted young woman. According to Arianna’s mom, she “never walked away from a friend. She was always there for them, no matter what they did. She was so forgiving and would listen and listen.” Arianna treated her friends like family.
“She had a really big family, if you think about it. With all the friends she talked to, whether it was just a text or a phone call, she would always be doing something nice. She would always be the first one to make a card or something if someone was feeling down. She would always go out of her way to let you know that you meant something to her,” Geesaman said. Shuck continued, “It was always just something little, [the] generous things she always did.”
“Random acts of kindness all the time,” Kozimer-King added. According to VanBuskirk, Arianna mentioned in one of their conversations that, “My mom is really worried about me spending my money, but I can’t help it!” Arianna just wanted to give so much to everyone around her, despite the toll it may have taken on herself.
Arianna did not just stop with giving others little comfort trinkets, though; she also shared her enthusiasm for life with those around her. Shuck remembered fondly, “Anything that she was passionate about and you were interested in, she was so excited to share, to get you passionate about them too. She would always treat everyone like you were family. It wasn’t like she just regarded you as just another friend or someone she just met, it was like you were family.”
It was hard not to be happy around Arianna. “She was always just really positive and excited about everything we had to do,” Shuck said. Arianna’s admirable attitude caused her to become a role model for many. According to Courtney Warlick, a sophomore who met Arianna in a physics class, “Since she was a year older than me, I felt like she took me under her wing and helped me survive my freshman year of college. She would always invite me to see concerts with her, visit her at her home in Gettysburg or just hang out on campus. She always put a smile on my face whenever I saw her.”
In one of Arianna’s FYS journal entries, she wrote, “My purpose in life is to make positive impacts in the lives of as many people as I can.” Though Arianna did not get a chance to reach all of her life goals, it is obvious that she was able to reach this purpose. Arianna will be missed greatly at Etown because of all the contributions she has made to the school and everyone she came into contact with, and by the world for all of the contributions she had the capability and potential of making in the future. Her memory can motivate all Etown students to make a positive impact on the world.
Gallery of Arianna Krayo