Students remember beloved friend

Courtney Scrib

From his devotion to helping others to his impeccable sense of style to his strong athletic ability, Brett Andersen was the type of accomplished, well-rounded individual who people often resent. But Brett Andersen had no enemies.

There was no reason to hate, or even find fault with him.

He was genuine. He was the type of person who found the good in every situation. And more than anything, he was a friend to everyone he met.

“Brett made you feel special,” sophomore Andrew Calcagno said. “When he talked to you, he looked you right in the eyes and made you feel like you were the only person who mattered.”

During the early morning hours of Oct. 8 in his hometown Staten Island, N.Y., Andersen, 20 and a junior at Villanova, was killed in a car crash.

According to the police report, Andersen lost control of his vehicle and smashed into a row of parked cars and a tree.

He died at St. Vincent’s Hospital, West Brighton less than an hour after he arrived.

At the time, his friend, Jonathan Carey, 20, was in the passenger seat.

Carey, who first met Andersen when they were 10, remains in stable condition.

“He was caring and protective of all of us,” his sister, Heather Andersen, told the Staten Island Advance. “He was always protective when it came to guys, and I’m his older sister.”

As family and friends in New York cope with the loss of the young man they loved and respected, those who saw and talked to Andersen everyday on campus cannot help but be reminded of his absence in their daily lives.

His classmates at the College of Engineering, where he was studying to become a mechanical engineer, sat in class this week next to an empty desk.

Friends and former roommates who used to pass him on their way through the Quad no longer were greeted with his smile and hugs.

Meanwhile, his girfriend and current apartment mates returned from fall break knowing that life at Villanova would never be the way it was before.

Described by his friends as someone who would do anything for you, Andersen’s selflessness was also evident in his commitment to the Salem Evangelical Free Church in West Brighton, N.Y.

From broken arms to parking locks, Andersen would not let anything come between him and his faith.

Two years ago when he broke his arm, he still traveled on a church mission trip to the inner city of Los Angeles to serve meals to the homeless and spend time with kids from the projects.

According to his mother, Audrey, the experience changed him and made him feel good about what he had done.

Senior Michael Cocozza, a friend from both Villanova and Staten Island, recounted one interesting Saturday night when he and Andersen’s car was locked in a parking lot.

“He goes into the house and comes out with a bat, a saw and a hammer and is determined to open the lock,” Cocozza remembered. “The whole time we’re banging away at this lock, he keeps asking me if I’ll drive him to church tomorrow morning. All he was worried about was missing church.”

Andersen graduated from Monsignor Farrell High School in 2004, where he had been the captain of the soccer team and played on the golf team.

However, it was not until he arrived at Villanova that friends say he really began to break out of his shell.

During his freshman year, Andersen initiated several friendships by just knocking on neighbors’ doors and inviting them to go and hang out with him or have dinner together.

Like most college-aged kids, he enjoyed being with his friends and having fun, even if they did not share his affinity for pink shirts or Abercrombie and Fitch (where he was an employee).

As the son of Norwegian parents, Andersen was proud of his Scandinavian heritage and joked with his friends that he was “born on ice.”

Last Thursday and Friday, family members, friends and members of the Staten Island and Villanova communities, including University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., gathered in West Brighton for Andersen’s viewing and funeral.

Villanova students who attended and knew Andersen were not surprised to see the line extend outside the door of the funeral home and down the street.

“It speaks to the type of person he was,” Cocozza said. “He accepted everyone for who they were.”

Villanova junior Gary Aiello, one of Andersen’s best friends who is currently studying abroad in London this semester, spoke at the funeral.

On Saturday Andersen was laid to rest at Ocean View Cemetery in Oakwood.

In memory of Andersen, several members of the Villanova community who were friends with Andersen established a memorial scholarship fund in his name.

Additionally, other friends are in the process of designing and selling a bracelet in celebration of Andersen’s life.

All proceeds will be directed towards the Brett Andersen Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“He was so at peace with himself,” junior John Alex Takacs said, and “in a way, that in itself gives you some peace.”

If you are interested in contributing to the Brett Andersen Memorial Scholarship Fund, checks should be made payable to Villanova University and include attn: Brett Andersen.