Peers remember freshman Olivia Pryor as outgoing, motivated
It was a typical Monday morning for prenursing freshman Quishanna Coleman until she was slammed with a devastating reality.
Her roommate and longtime best friend Olivia Pryor, with whom she had eaten dinner with the night before, was lying unresponsive in her bed.
“I was calling people, I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I think now I’m still in disbelief.”
Pryor, an 18-year-old journalism freshman and 2011 graduate of Martin Luther King High School in Detroit, was discovered in her South Hubbard Hall room by Coleman at about 10 a.m. Monday and was pronounced dead by MSU Police.
Police officials said alcohol poisoning could have played a role in her death, but autopsy reports still are pending.
Those who were close with Pryor during her life remember a happy and outgoing woman — one who always had a smile on her face, had big dreams and planned on going big places. An avid people person, Pryor left lasting impressions with nearly everyone she met, Coleman said.
“No matter if you just met her on the street or she knew you all her life, she touched you in some way,” Coleman said.
Pryor’s parents could not be reached for comment as of Tuesday night.
Pryor’s ever-present humor is what will stick in psychology freshman Kelsi Smith’s mind as she remembers her close friend, whom she met last summer before their freshman year in college.
One late night in Hubbard Hall, Smith said she, Coleman and Pryor were giving each other mud mask facials when Pryor thought it would be fun to venture into dorm hallways and scare everyone who walked by.
“We got this crazy idea to run up and down every single floor’s hallway singing (and) wearing the mud masks,” Smith said. “She liked comedy.”
During high school, Pryor enjoyed cheerleading and acting and hoped to go places in the field of journalism, said supply chain management freshman Patrick Pryor, Olivia Pryor’s cousin and close friend.
“She wanted to be on the news every night — CNN, MSNBC,” Patrick Pryor said.
Although Olivia Pryor wasn’t yet sure exactly what she wanted to do with a journalism degree, she was on the right track and was passionate about her studies, said Stratton Lee, an undergraduate adviser for the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.
As her adviser, Lee said he often met with her to give recommendations on what classes to take or what tract of journalism would best fit her interests. During their interactions, Lee said he always was impressed by her respectfulness and professionalism.
“She had a shining personality — she’d start talking to you and you’d see this glow,” Lee said. “She was passionate about school, passionate about doing well and wanted to be on track; do her four years and just excel.”
His last contact with Olivia Pryor was a quick text, but if Patrick Pryor had one more moment to spend with her, he would have said something similar to what he told her on the day of their high school graduation — a simple “I love you.”
“I wish I could have ended it with, ‘I love you, Olivia,” Patrick Pryor said. “I didn’t want to end it with ‘Happy St. Patrick’s Day.’”
Coleman will miss so many things about her best friend — the random moments they spent together throughout the years, the little personality quirks and the mutual hobbies of reading, writing and shopping they shared. More than anything, she hopes others will remember an accurate picture of the person so many knew and loved.
“Olivia was the best person anyone could know,” Coleman said. “I appreciate everything she’s done for me, and I’m sure that she would have made it really far and done amazing things in life.”
Patrick Pryor said Olivia Pryor’s funeral arrangements have not yet been made.
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