“Passionate” was the word friends, teammates, coaches, and Harvard officials used to describe Ariel E.F. Shaker ’10—who passed away Wednesday night after suffering injuries in a horse-riding accident last Thursday.
Her roommates said she loved talking, writing, literature, and spending time with people. Friends said that the passionate way she approached life—from her selflessness in her friendships to her love for Bob Dylan and the outdoors—left a mark on those around her.
“When I think of her, the word passion comes to mind,” said Cabot House Master Jay M. Harris of the 21-year-old Shaker. “She was creative, imaginative, and threw herself into everything she did.”
In an e-mail to students Monday afternoon, Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds cited the words of Shaker’s college interviewer to describe her personality.
“She is easily the most personable applicant I’ve interviewed in my years of interviewing for Harvard,” the interviewer wrote. “She is well spoken, poised, engaging, sharp and witty. I’d be shocked if she isn’t a real leader among her peers.”
Above all, Shaker adored horses, which she had ridden since she was eight years old. It was her love for riding that led her to join the Harvard Polo Club this year.
Although Shaker had spent just a month as a member of the team, she made an immediate impression on her new coaches and teammates.
Coach Crocker Snow Jr. ’61 said that he and his wife Cissie, who coaches the women’s polo team, were instantly struck by Shaker’s athletic ability and love for horses—“all the requirements for becoming a polo player,” he said.
Women’s team captain Alexandra “Za” C. Tilt ’10 wrote in an e-mail that Shaker’s passion for horses was instantly clear and left a lasting impression on the members of the team.
“She had never played before, but I remember her second or third time practicing with us she pulled me aside and said, ‘I don’t just want to learn to play polo. I want to be GOOD at polo. Just tell me what I have to do,’ Tilt recalled in an e-mail. “She just seemed to love every minute of it.”
Snow said that while Shaker was with two other Harvard students at Pony Express in Ipswich, Mass. at the time of the accident—in which she thrown from a horse that then fell on her—she was not participating in a Harvard practice. He said that she was helping exercise some of the horses when she was injured.
“I can absolutely tell you that she was an extremely accomplished rider on a steady, dependable, reliable horse,” Crocker said. “It’s a mystery.”
The Salem News reported last week that police said Shaker was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
A representative for the Ipswich Police Department did not respond to repeated requests for comment by The Crimson over the past few days.