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Marquette community members remember professor with candlelight vigil

An+estimated+400+students+lined+candles+outside+the+Joan+of+Arc+Chapel+Monday+night+in+memorial+of+visiting+Assistant+Professor+Elena+Ivanova.+Photo+by+Yue+Yin+%2F+yue.yin%40marquette.edu.
An estimated 400 students lined candles outside the Joan of Arc Chapel Monday night in memorial of visiting Assistant Professor Elena Ivanova. Photo by Yue Yin / yue.yin@marquette.edu.

An estimated 400 students lined candles outside the Joan of Arc Chapel Monday night in memorial of visiting Assistant Professor Elena Ivanova. Photo by Yue Yin / yue.yin@marquette.edu.

An estimated 400 students lined candles outside the Joan of Arc Chapel Monday night in memorial of visiting Assistant Professor Elena Ivanova. Photo by Yue Yin / yue.yin@marquette.edu.

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An estimated 400 people, mostly dressed in black, huddled calmly and quietly in front of the Todd Wehr Chemistry building Monday to honor the late Elena Ivanova, former visiting assistant professor of chemistry.

Students, faculty, staff and community members participated in a candlelight vigil and heard speeches about Ivanova, who died unexpectedly Sunday night. The cause of her death has not been disclosed.

The event’s Facebook page received over 500 RSVPs and was set up by Derek Nicolas, a junior in the College of Health Sciences who was taking Ivanova’s class this semester.

Organic chemistry professor Rajendra Rathore will teach her class for the rest of the semester.

Nicolas said Ivanova’s class was supposed to take a test Monday, and he thought something was off when she didn’t show at the Sunday night review session or send an email to the class.

“Organic chemistry is a pretty difficult course so for her to be able to bring excitement and joy and fun to a 9 a.m. organic chemistry class really shows how great of an individual she was,” Nicolas said. “For her to not be here any longer is something really difficult that everyone’s coping with right now.”

Ivanova lived in Russia and Canada before coming to the U.S.

“She talked about stories about her and her lab in Russia, they were all very, very funny,” Nicolas said. “She would sneak in humorous stories every now and then during hard sections of our lecture. And her saying her voice was due to a Canadian accent was also funny.”

A table outside Wehr Chemistry held candies, a picture of Ivanova and a sign that read “Dr. Ivanova loved candy, and she always wanted her students to have a piece. Take one now in memory of her.”

Qadir Timerghazin, Ivanova’s husband and assistant chemistry professor, also spoke during the event.

“I feel lucky to have been able to spend the years with a person of such great heart and boundless love and great compassion,” Timerghazin said. “This job here at Marquette gave her the biggest fulfillment of her life and she was giving everything she had to it.”

The attendees, mostly students, comforted each other and remained mostly quiet throughout, with occasional tearing up and sniffling.

“I think we should all take time to reflect and look at the time that we had with (Ivanova) as a gift, and cherish the time we spent with her and all that we learned from her,” University President Michael Lovell said at the event.

After the speeches, the attendees lit candles, walked to Joan of the Arc chapel and placed them on the stone rims of the two rectangular plant boxes on either side of the chapel’s front door.

Sam Jacquet, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, also helped organize the event, which went from being funded by students to receiving all of its funding from the chemistry graduate student organization. Jacquet said she met Ivanova through her job in the chemistry department.

A fund was set up for the Marquette community to off-set the cost of Ivanova’s memorial service. It raised $960 of its $5,000 goal by the time of publication.

Jacquet said Ivanova always had candy in her office, whether it was from Walgreens or Russia.

“I never had (Ivanova) as a professor but she did become a really close friend and inspiration,” Jacquet said. “She was always there for advice and she was such an amazing person.”

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