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Harvard Undergraduate Clio Griffin ’15 Remembered as 'Unfailingly Curious and Kind'

Harvard student Clio Griffin '15, a resident of Quincy House, died last week after an extended illness.
Harvard student Clio Griffin '15, a resident of Quincy House, died last week after an extended illness. By Steve S. Li
By Juliet E. Isselbacher and Amanda Y. Su, Crimson Staff Writers

Clio Griffin ’15, a Harvard undergraduate who held a deep-running passion for justice and service, died last week after an extended illness.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana wrote in an email to College affiliates last week that Griffin’s professors remembered her as a “brilliant” and “thoughtful” student.

“Her kindness and compassion were obvious to everyone, from her professors in the classroom to her house community and beyond,” Khurana wrote. “Clio’s profound love for our Harvard community of fellow students should serve as an inspiration to us all.”

Griffin, who was on a leave of absence from the College, was a History concentrator in Quincy House. She is survived by her parents and sister.

Quincy Faculty Deans Eric A. Beerbohm and Leslie J. Duhaylongsod connected Griffin’s work in history to her interest in social justice.

“She was a sharp, thoughtful, and engaged student who saw history — in particular the history of race and racial thinking — as a way to make sense of contemporary issues,” they wrote in an email to house residents.

Beerbohm and Duhaylongsod also wrote that one of Griffin’s professors had described her intellectual interests to them as “quirky” yet “fascinating,” noting her sophomore capstone project that dealt with the history of fishing tools.

Carla Heelan, the History department’s assistant director of undergraduate studies, who taught Griffin in a seminar on European history, described her as “unfailingly curious and kind.”

“My memory of Clio is someone who was a very original thinker who delighted in nuance,” Heelan said. “Beyond her intelligence, she was also a very generous presence in the classroom.”

Heelan said that Griffin’s final research paper explored the impact of the radio for German citizens in the Weimar Republic. Heelan added that Griffin’s academic interest in “emancipatory tools” like the radio complemented her real-life commitment to social justice and service.

Beerbohm and Duhaylongsod testified to Griffin’s impressive record of service in their email to Quincy House. They recognized the time she spent volunteering with the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and the Priscilla Chan Stride Scholars Program, a select group of undergraduates involved in public service initiatives, and noted that she had hoped to pursue a career in social work after receiving her degree.

In a separate email to The Crimson, Beerbohm and Duhaylongsod said they had heard about Griffin’s dedication to service work from fellow volunteers at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter during Quincy House memorial gathering held over Zoom.

“We were struck by the connection she made with her fellow volunteers and with homeless individuals during her many overnight shifts and her leadership position last summer,” they wrote.

Outside of her service work, Griffin, a former Crimson multimedia editor, was also a “valuable” early member of The Crimson’s Multimedia Board in its first year, according to her former Crimson colleague Jacob S. “Jake” Beech ’14. He wrote in an email last week that she was enthusiastic about video production and invested a significant amount of energy into creating multimedia content at a time when video was very new for The Crimson.

“I recall her bringing a lot of positive energy and optimism to our team meetings,” he wrote.

In a message to Quincy House residents last week, Madeleine Griffin, Clio Griffin’s mother, wrote that her daughter’s “wise and compassionate spirit” was always present whenever someone was in need.

"To those of you who knew Clio, you will hold fond memories of her always. To those of you who didn't know Clio, please know that the world has lost a funny, intelligent but, most of all, kind young woman,” she wrote. “Her departure causes us a grief beyond words, but we who love her will carry her beautiful spirit with us always, to help us to live the lives she wished for us.”

“On behalf of Clio, we (her parents and sister) ask you please to look after yourselves and each other,” she concluded.

—Staff writer Juliet E. Isselbacher can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @julietissel.

—Staff writer Amanda Y. Su can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amandaysu.

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