UCLA faculty and students remember Olivia Shipp for her kindness, intuition and sense of agency.
Shipp, a third-year communication student, died Nov. 16 in Rome while studying abroad. While at UCLA, she was a member of the Alpha Phi sorority and interned for the United States National Committee for United Nations Women’s Greater LA Chapter. Shipp was 20.
Aileen Nguyen, a Daily Bruin staffer and a third-year economics and global studies student, carpooled with Shipp to their internship at U.N. Women. Nguyen recalled how Shipp helped her get through a particularly difficult day in the first few weeks of knowing each other.
“When (Shipp) picked me up, she realized something was wrong immediately, but instead of trying to make me talk, she decided that we should just grab some ice cream since we were early,” Nguyen said in an email statement. “This was exactly what I needed, and being her amazing self, she got me to open up to her what was wrong and just made me feel better about everything.”
Nguyen said their camaraderie only grew stronger after that day.
“From then on, I could always rely on (Shipp) for … life advice and food runs after our internship,” Nguyen said. “From the time we had to scramble around the car looking for coins to pay for parking, to blasting Christmas music to match the lights down the street, I’ll always cherish those car rides.”
Kerri Johnson, chair of the communication department, said in an email sent to all communication students that Shipp exemplified the best of the department and UCLA.
“She had an adventurous spirit, a keen intellectual curiosity, and a kind way with others,” Johnson said. “Her joy was contagious, and we will miss her tremendously.”
Shipp interned with Michael Suman, a senior continuing lecturer in the communication department, during winter quarter to study the usage and effects of new communications technology.
“She was responsible, conscientious, hard-working, intellectually curious, and ambitious,” Suman said in an email statement. “She was always pleasant, friendly, and got along with everyone.”
During her time as a communications intern at U.N. Women from Oct. 2017 to May, Shipp oversaw the chapter’s social media platforms and communicated with members and subscribers of the organization’s online content.
Brooke Scott, Shipp’s supervisor at the internship, said Shipp was passionate and had a strong sense of leadership.
“Her strong sense of advocacy followed her before she joined and was only strengthened when she joined the chapter,” Scott said. “She was not afraid to speak her mind.”
Scott recalled an incident involving Shipp and a fellow intern, who was epileptic. When the intern had a seizure, Shipp immediately brought the seizure to Scott’s attention to get help for the intern.
“Whenever someone wasn’t OK, she was the first one to let me know,” Scott said.
Chloe Burnitz, a second-year communication student and Shipp’s little in Alpha Phi, first met Shipp at U.N. Women at the beginning of Burnitz’s first year, prior to sorority rush. Burnitz said meeting Shipp was what made her want to join Alpha Phi.
“She was literally the nicest person,” Burnitz said. “She was actually (like) my big sister. She was someone I could always depend on in my first year of college.”
Pia Svenson, an undergraduate adviser in the communication department, also praised Shipp’s kindness and optimism.
“She just embraced life,” she said.