Community gathers in remembrance

Celia Heudebourg

]1 The American flag in the center of campus is lowered to half-mast on the morning of Monday Feb. 19. Photo by Celia Heudebourg ’18.
Just after 11 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, the Macalester community received an email from President Brian Rosenberg with the news that Matias “Tea” Sosa-Wheelock, member of the class of 2020, had suddenly died.

A memorial service on Tuesday, Feb. 20 in the Weyerhaeuser Chapel offered more than 100 students, faculty and staff an opportunity to come together to remember Sosa-Wheelock’s life and mourn his loss.

“You may have seen him on campus carrying an oversized skateboard,” Daniel Trudeau said, Sosa-Wheelock’s advisor and first-year course professor. “He would tell you that it was the right size.”

“The longboard, Matias told me, was one of the first types of skateboards developed,” Trudeau continued. “And it provided him, honestly, a delightful way of moving around his new surroundings.”

Horacio Sosa, Sosa-Wheelock’s father, shared details of his son’s life with the memorial’s attendees and highlighted the importance of reaching out in times of distress.

Both Sosa and Rosenberg told the crowd that each student at Macalester is important and valued.

“We love you. When we accept you into this community, we take this as a sacred responsibility. We love you even when you don’t like us,” Rosenberg said. “Know that you matter and that we care about every single one of you.”

“Some of you are carrying hearts that are broken wide open, because you knew Tea, as a classmate, as a friend, as a roommate, as a fellow student,” College Chaplain and Associate Dean Reverend Kelly Stone said.

“No matter what you feel, or how you’re processing it, I want to say here, loud and clearly, that you are welcome here today,” Stone continued. “No matter what you are feeling, no matter what you’ve come [with], you belong here in this place.”

Ted Rueff, the Director of Counseling at the Hamre Center for Health and Wellness, urged students to rely on and support one another.

“One thing we know about grief is that it benefits from time,” Rueff wrote in an email to The Mac Weekly. “But a second, perhaps more important thing is that we move through grief best when we move through it together.

“We know from experience that the suicide of someone in a community can escalate suicidal thoughts and impulses among those who are already struggling with depression and thoughts of taking one’s own life,” Rueff continued. “If this is happening for any Mac student, please reach out and let someone know, so that we can see you through this difficult time.”

The Center for Health and Wellness is available to students 24/7. After hours, students can get assistance via the same number: 651-696-6275. When it rings through press 2 to be connected with an off-campus counselor by phone.

“There are many sources of support woven all through this community,” Rueff wrote. “The important thing is to ask for help when you need it.”

Below are resources for support:

Phone Resources:

Crisis Connection:(612) 379-6363 (24/hr phone service), press “2”

Ramsey County Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health: 651-266-7900 (can come to you if at risk)

Web Resources:

IAMalive: live, online network that uses instant messaging to respond to people in crisis,

Mental Health Matters: strategies for dealing with triggers and flash backs,

Actively Moving Forward: student grief org.

Univ. of Washington- Healthy Grieving:

Community Resources:

Family Tree: free,walk-in mental health counseling, MW, 5-7pm

Center for Grief, Loss & Transition: 1133 Grand Avenue, St. Paul.