Rojeana Auriel Hall, a sophomore business administration major known on campus as Auriel, died Oct. 14 at 6:10 a.m. at the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic from complications of cystic fibrosis — a common incurable hereditary lung disease that develops mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs.
Her sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, will hold a campus memorial service at the Arena at the Don Taft University Center on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 4 to 5 p.m.
Hall was an active student on campus, serving as Student Ambassador; a member of the Caribbean Student Association; a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, which supports the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as one of their philanthropic causes; and a photographer for the Office of Student Media and Information. On her sorority interest form, she wrote that her dream job was to “become the best photographer … EVER.”
Gesley-ann Alexis, junior legal studies major and Hall’s sorority sister, said, “Her strength and bubbly personality continues to have an impact on me. She is and will forever remain my sister. I love her, and I am excited for the day I can see her beautiful curls and smile again. On behalf of Delta Phi Epsilon, our hearts support and prayers go out to Auriel’s family in a way that words cannot describe.”
Shannon Booker, assistant director of Student Activities, said “I recently started here at NSU in August and I had the honor of meeting Auriel during Weeks of Welcome. Although she was going through [this] battle, every time I saw her, she was smiling and in good spirits.”
Delta Phi Epsilon held their annual event “Mr. Fintastic”, a male beauty pageant, on Sept. 14, in which all proceeds went to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Hall was hospitalized at the time, but submitted a video to kick off the event.
In the video, Hall expressed her goal of raising $4,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which would help her and her two siblings living with the same condition.
She said, “About 30,000 people are affected with CF in the U.S., but the foundation helps insure that there’s new science and technology to help CF’ers. The [Cystic Fibrosis] foundation allows CF’ers to live another day. Without CF, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
Hall’s friend of eight years, Alyssa Rivera, sophomore communication studies major, said, “She was an example of what a truly good person should be like; non judgmental, compassionate and always giving. I will miss her, her contagious laugh, and most of all, her incomparable friendship. Auriel will be greatly missed by all, but never forgotten. She has left her footprint on the hearts of so many. We all need to help continue her legacy, spread her story, and contribute to help finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.”
The Huizenga School of Business’s Dean Preston Jones, Hall’s mentor, said, “I believe Rojeana’s will was to make every minute she was with us memorable. Often she expressed to me her love for her family, friends and NSU. We’ll miss you, Rojeana.”
In November 2011, as a freshman, Hall wrote a highly personal article for The Current, entitled “Diary of … a Student Living with Cystic Fibrosis.” She explained that she was diagnosed at seven months old and that the condition made breathing a struggle.
But she developed a daily routine to stay healthy. This included taking six aerosol treatments every night and day; taking multiple vitamins, antibiotics, and nose sprays to prevent infections; taking five enzyme-replacement pills with every meal; wearing a vest to help cleanse her lungs; and snacking throughout the day to maintain a healthy weight.
She said, “Yes, this is all time-consuming and annoying, but it keeps me healthy. My illness does not define me. I may have trouble walking or climbing a staircase, but I am just as good as another peer. I had exceeded some expectations of cystic fibrosis. I made it to college. I live on my own. I am not in the hospital 24/7. I’d say I’m doing pretty darn good.”
In June, Hall’s symptoms worsened and doctors prescribed a portable oxygen tank for her to wear 24/7. In September, she caught a cold, which affects cystic fibrosis patients harder, and was admitted to the hospital.
Hall was usually hospitalized once or twice a year for routine checkups, tests and treatments. Her September stay was expected to last only two weeks, but she stayed for four.
Doctors said her heart was weak and she developed cysts in her nasal cavity from the prescribed oxygen, which caused nosebleeds. She was released, but readmitted on Oct. 12, after complaining of chest pains and a fever. She was transported by ambulance from a local hospital to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, on Oct. 13.
Ashley Hall, Auriel’s oldest sister, said that she traveled from Tallahassee to be with her “baby sister.” Though Auriel was in a medically induced coma, Ashley learned that such patients could still hear.
She said, “I read every person’s name from Facebook who sent prayers to her, so she knew how much support she had.”
Hall was placed on a lung transplant list, which she once said cost between $300 thousand and $900 thousand, but she died within hours.
Andrea Kovachy, Director of the Office of Student Activities, said, “We are truly saddened by the loss of Auriel. She was an incredible young woman and inspiration to all that interacted with her. Our thoughts are with her family, friends and sisters at this time.”
Hall’s viewing was on Oct. 19 at Joseph A. Scarano Funeral Home in Hollywood, Fla., and a mass was held in her honor on Oct. 20 in St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Pembroke Pines.
Lindsay Wright, senior business administration major, said, “Her legacy lives on in the hearts of every person who knew her personally or heard about her.”
Hall’s best friend since the sixth grade, Gabriela Gomez, freshman marine biology major, said, “[When] she went up to Jacksonville, she was still smiling and laughing with myself, her mom and sister, and my mom and niece. Auriel was an inspiration to many and was the most loving and caring person I have ever met. She was always doing things to make other people smile and laugh in hard times. She was my best friend, my neighbor, my sister. I love her so much and I know she is looking down on us all.”