“It means ‘the urge to be, to count for something, and, if death must come, to die valiantly, with acclamation-in short, to remain a memory.” Quote from the movie “All the Bright Places.”
On January 25, 2022 the Tacoma, UWT and Ledger communities lost a wonderful soul, Ella Lucente. She graduated from UWT in 2020 with a BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics: Politics and Philosophy and a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She then attended Pepperdine to get a master’s in law. She was a part of The Ledger family from 2018 until she graduated starting as a reporter and working her way up to editor-in-chief. Her senior year she started the UWT ACLU chapter on campus hosting events like Transday of Remembrance on campus.
Lucente’s goal was to be able to help those who were in domestic and sexual violence and get them the help to get out of and heal from the situation. She dipped her toes into this by interning at The Crystal Judson Family Justice Center, being a paralegal intern and working with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) by being a part of the victim services training team. She was an advocate for those who didn’t have a voice.
Lucente kept herself busy with her volunteer work, interning and doing research. Her own personal research that she wanted to do was looking at the ideology of sexual assault within colleges in the U.S. and the U.K., comparing the differences of the east and west coast of the U.S. but also how the U.K. and the U.S. view sexual assault. This was something that she was very excited about; being able to do research about a topic that was close to her and sharing this experience of doing research and traveling with me as her trusted sidekick.
Lucente also was doing psychological research and acting as a teaching assistant at UWT with her mentor Dr. Caroline West. We asked Dr. West to answer a few questions about Lucente and these were her responses.
What was Ella’s personality like when you taught her?
West: “She was very outgoing and eager to learn. She was definitely the life of the party. She was generally the first person to arrive. Ella was inquisitive and had lots of questions. She had a great sense of humor and was so excited to participate in class discussions and activities.”
Could you tell she was doing what she loved or if she was on track for what she wanted to do in life?
West: “She was on track. She always took chances and challenged herself to take on new professional goals. We were in the middle of preparing her applications for graduate school when she passed. She was also planning a big trip to Europe to study abroad for a year. Travel was her passion and she wanted to see the world. I think that is why the loss has been so heavy on my heart. She had so much potential to help others, especially abuse survivors and former foster children. It hurts that those dreams won’t happen for Ella. However, I know her life has impacted so many.”
Did you take anything away from your relationship with her? If so, what?
West: “She made me a better person and professor. Despite all of her life challenges, she was so passionate and positive. Ella really inspired me.”
We also reached out to Tarah Wagner who Lucente was a paralegal for, and this is what she had to say about her time with Lucente.
How did you meet Ella?
Wagner: “I met Ella when she applied to my paralegal position in May of 2020. We met on Zoom for the interview and spent most of the interview talking about Disney and I knew instantly that we would get along.”
What work did Ella do for you? Could you tell from her work that she was on the right track for what she wanted to do in life?
Wagner: “Ella was my paralegal. She handled all of my cases and was more than just an employee. She handled the office, she was my office manager, my paralegal, my assistant and my friend. We became very fast friends. Working for me was a great stepping stone for her moving forward with the goals that she was working towards. It showed her she wanted to be more of a supporting advocate for individuals.”
What was her personality like during the time she worked with you?
Wagner: “She was so positive and very upbeat and friendly to everyone she talked to. The clients loved her and she and I got along very well. She was so encouraging and pushed me to try new avenues in my career and apply to things I would not have thought to.”
What is one thing that you took away from your relationship with Ella?
Wagner: “Ella was an amazing person. She was such a wonderful loving and caring person. All she wanted to do was help others. And I felt that from her. She and I became very close and it is a very sad loss not only for me losing her, but for those who never got to meet her or cross paths with her. She will stick with me for the rest of my life. I feel very honored to have been able to have met her, and been friends with such an amazing person.”
Within the Ledger office Lucente was a loud bubble of joy bringing smiles to even the most serious staff members. She could find common ground with anyone whether that be about music or TV shows. She would find a way to have a personal connection with everyone she came in contact with. She also helped those who were in distress. I personally have had this experience with her and if it wasn’t for her dragging me up to the counseling center on campus during a panic attack, I might not have gotten through the unexpected death of a family member. If you were someone who needed support she was the one to go to because she would give you the clothes off her back in order to help you through a rough time.
Madeline Hiller is the current editor-in-chief (EIC) of The Ledger and thoroughly admired Lucente’s work ethic.
“Ella was one of those people you didn’t know was a role model for you until she was gone. I was terrified to step into this position, thinking I wasn’t going to be good enough. On that first day as EIC, I tried to imagine what Ella would say to begin the year and every day since I have thought ‘What would Ella do?’ Without knowing it, she told me everything I needed to know about being a leader. I did my best this year and will continue next year to be half as good of a leader–and person–that Ella was.”
Even though the community and the world has lost a bright bubbly light, she is within every person she came into contact with. The people who were close in her life will continue to do their little part to keep her spirit alive. She will be deeply missed by everyone, especially those closest to her. If you ever feel the need to feel closer to her, pick up a Colleen Hoover or a classic book or watch “Alice in Wonderland” or “Peter Pan.” To close this off I will end it with a quote that touched Lucente from the movie “All the Bright Places” and that is, “In search of the great Manifesto.”