Sheffield native killed in Ethiopian plane crash remembered for her compassion and leadership

“Samya was infectiously vibrant, intensely curious, and lived her life to the fullest.”

Samya Stumo
Samya Stumo. –Provided

A 24-year-old Sheffield native, who was one of the 157 people killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10, was remembered over the weekend by her loved ones at a private reception held at her family’s farm.

People packed into the family’s barn in Sheffield to share their memories of Samya Stumo on Saturday, WRGB reports.

Stumo was headed to Kenya when the plane crashed for her first assignment for ThinkWell, a nonprofit she began working for in January as a health financing analyst.

In a statement, her employers at ThinkWell called Stumo a “rising star in the cause to improve global health and development.”

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“She was contagiously enthusiastic about her work, about her colleagues, and about life in general,” the nonprofit said. “Her loss will be deeply felt throughout the development community.”

Stumo was born in Winstead, Connecticut, but grew up in Sheffield, Massachusetts, where the family moved following the death of her younger brother, according to her obituary. Her family wrote that she was homeschooled on the family farm until eighth grade.

She was a “bright, energetic child,” her family wrote, who taught herself to read when she was 4 years old:

Her family remembers well the enjoyment she took in raising pigs. Small in stature as a child, Samya took great pleasure in driving large farm equipment, including a tractor used to haul piles of firewood. Samya loved driving these big vehicles. It was empowering for her. She wasn’t physically large in size, but she could drive a tractor and accomplish as much as anyone else. Such formative experiences shaped her awareness of her own power.

Stumo’s family said she thrived academically, graduating from high school at 16 and enrolling at the University of Massachusetts Amherst when she was 17, where she majored in anthropology and Spanish.

Thomas Leatherman, a professor of anthropology who worked closely with Stumo, said in a statement shared by the university that his former student was “infectiously vibrant.”

“Her exuberance and enthusiasm were contagious and her spirit often buoyed those around her,” he said. “She was joyful, kind, spirited, and fearless.  She was truly a ‘one of a kind’ individual whose life and career held such great promise.”

The 24-year-old went on to attend the University of Copenhagen for her master’s degree in global health, where she graduated in 2018. 

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“Samya was passionate about revolutionizing global health,” her family wrote in her obituary. “She cared most about treating all people and patients as human beings, particularly in the context of their culture, family, and individuality. Samya was infectiously vibrant, intensely curious, and lived her life to the fullest. She had leadership, compassion, and intellectual rigor.”

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