UC Santa Cruz first-year Jenna Rose Fiorello, remembered for her passion for nature and the great outdoors, died last Tuesday in a car accident in the Big Sur region off of Highway 1. She was 19.
Fiorello was driving back to Santa Cruz from a camping trip when she lost control of her car and drove off a cliff. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Kresge College Provost Kathy Foley and Administrative Officer (CAO) for Porter and Kresge College Michael Yamauchi-Gleason passed on a message via email to the Kresge community from Fiorello’s family on April 2.
Her family wrote to the Kresge community in the email, saying that Fiorello was “passionate about nature and the great outdoors right up to the end of her brief, brilliant, magical time on this earth.” Fiorello is remembered by her friends and family as a thoughtful, caring and beautiful human being.
Fiorello took a leave of absence in winter 2014 and planned to return to UCSC this spring to continue her work in environmental studies.
Christine King, a UCSC faculty member, met Fiorello just last year and “adored her.”
Fiorello lived with King and her family in Santa Cruz while she attended Cabrillo College and studied horticulture. King said Fiorello developed an interest in gardening, and Fiorello saw her father, who has worked at San Francisco’s Botanical Gardens for over 20 years, as a mentor who loved plants and advised her with gardening.
“She was in a good space in her life and was very content,” King said. “She was doing exactly what she wanted to be doing and seemed to get joy out of even the smallest things.”
King’s birthday was on the day of Fiorello’s memorial service.
“[Fiorello’s] parents gave me a gift of giraffe earrings Jenna Rose had carefully selected a few weeks ago in Monterey, which was so perfect and so typical of her thoughtfulness,” King said.
Samantha Cardenas, a close friend of Fiorello and also an environmental studies major at UCSC, remembers the time Fiorello took care of her plants and her fish “Lord Kronos.” Cardenas said Fiorello’s memory will influence her time here at Santa Cruz.
“As I go further in this major, I’ll remember her, and remember to keep seeing the beauty of growth and remember to keep growing as an individual,” Cardenas said. “I know Kresge will miss her deeply.”
Fiorello’s housemate and friend Ruth Nichols remembers a time when their housemates were away for a few weeks. When they returned, Nichols said, “Jenna Rose filled the house with flowers for them.”
Hunter Rikard, a classmate from Cabrillo College, was with Fiorello on the day she died, as they were both on the camping trip in Big Sur. Fiorello and Rikard played Mancala on the beach, talking in Texan accents just for fun. Rikard remembers her friendship with Fiorello as full of laughter.
Fiorello’s memorial service was held at Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco on April 6. A relative who spoke during the service called her “natural, uncomplicated and pure.”
Anyone who wishes to make a charitable donation in Fiorello’s honor can visit the website for the Crissy Field Center at the Presidio of San Francisco.