LSU professors reflect on tragic death of bright graduate student

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Faculty members at LSU are mourning the death of one of the university's distinguished graduates.

28-year-old alumnus Devon Wade, who graduated cum laude in both Sociology and Criminology and African and African American Studies in 2010, was allegedly shot and killed by his boyfriend Sunday night near Houston.

Wade was pursuing a doctorate degree from Columbia University, which was no surprise to Dr. Matthew Lee, who is LSU's Vice Provost of Academic Programs and Support Services.

"He was very enthusiastic, very energetic. Whenever you talked with him you just felt the positivity and the intellectual energy that he had.  You knew that he was going places. I wasn't surprised at all that he was admitted into an elite school like Columbia. As I was texting somebody this morning (I told them) he was just as good as they get," Lee said.

Wade had moved back to the Houston area for his dissertation, which allowed him to help the No More Victims group. The group helps kids cope with having parents in jail. Wade joined the group when he was 15 and he credited the experience with paving his way to success.

"It's just such a loss when something unfortunate like this happens to somebody who just such a good and decent human being and was so committed to impacting other people's lives. He was not a selfish person at all. He was very much interested in trying to give a hand up to young people and helping them out of challenging circumstances. He was very very committed to social justice. That's why the loss is even more painful. It's a loss for humanity," Dr. Lee said.

Dr. Lori Martin, who is the Director of LSU's African & African American Studies Program, never taught Wade but recruited him to contribute to a book project that she was working on with her colleagues about the prison to school pipeline. "I was aware of his interest on race and crime, so I thought he would be a good contributor."

Wade contributed a chapter discussing how schools are structured and the impact they can potentially have on children that face trauma, depression, and other issues.

"He was really a great scholar and you know with him, it was very clear that the future of sociology and African American studies was in good hands. He was very passionate about looking at racial disparities in crime. He was passionate about children who had parents that were incarcerated. He was concerned about children being re-traumatized in the school system," Martin said.

Martin and her colleagues are currently working to establish a scholarship at LSU in Wade's name.

"The African and African American Studies program here at LSU is interested in establishing a scholarship in his honor and that scholarship would help to support a student in the humanities and social sciences that is interested in pursuing a graduate degree and we are especially interested in students that overcome some adversity and also students that are committed to changing the social climate in which we live," Martin said.

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