One minute, Joao Souza was living his life at Binghamton University — going to class and chatting with friends on campus. Now, his friends are remembering him as a personable, driven student with a heart of gold.
Souza, 19, was a freshman majoring in engineering. He died after police found him seriously injured in Windham Hall of Mountainview College on Sunday night.
According to friends, Souza was a personable extrovert and dedicated student. He graduated last year from Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook, New York and was a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity. Souza was originally from Brazil.
Evan Wallace, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry, went to high school with Souza and stayed in touch when the friends started classes at BU. According to Wallace, he first met Souza through his Spanish class. Wallace said Souza was extremely kind and well-liked by students at Blind Brook High School and BU.
“He was one of those people that you couldn’t really not like,” Wallace said. “Everything about him was just incredible. He was an outgoing, funny, charismatic person who everybody really loved, whether they were his best friend or just knew him from seeing him in the hallway.”
According to Danielle Goz, a friend of Souza’s from Rye Brook, he loved soccer and played on the varsity team throughout high school. Goz said Souza also had a passion for cars.
“Not one person could say something bad about him,” Goz said. “His laugh and beautiful smile could light up a room and he had such a profound impact in so many people’s lives. He was my best friend and he was always there for me.”
Wallace characterized Souza as a hard worker and intelligent person.
“In Spanish [class], he was a great, smart student with a great work ethic, but he was also a really popular guy in a great way,” Wallace said. “He made everyone else feel at home and like a friend.”
Souza is survived by his parents, Alexandre and Renata Souza, and his sister, Helena Souza. A GoFundMe has been set up in his memory. According to the fundraiser’s description, the money raised will be donated to a fund in Souza’s honor to help underprivileged children in Brazil pursue their dreams of playing soccer. The GoFundMe has been shared over 500 times on Facebook, and has raised over $11,000.
Wallace said he thinks Souza should be remembered for the good things in his life, including his shining personality and talent on and off the field.
“I want to make his positive memory last,” Wallace said. “That’s really what I think he would’ve wanted.”
Students affected by Souza’s death can contact the University Counseling Center at (607) 777-2772.