Capilouto offers prayers, support after death of UK student

Kernel Staff File Photo

Bailey Vandiver

President Eli Capilouto sent a campus-wide email after the loss of UK student TeNiya Jones, who died in a swimming accident in Israel. 

“We pray that TeNiya’s family finds light in this darkness,” he wrote. “We pray, too, for comfort and healing for our other students.” 

Jones was studying abroad in the Middle East for the summer when she traveled to Tel Aviv for the weekend. She, along with two other students, went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday night. A strong current pulled the three out to sea, and the other two made it safely back to shore. Jones’ body was found early Monday morning.

Capilouto said that he and other UK officials have been in contact with Jones’ family and are trying to get them to Tel Aviv as soon as possible. A “dedicated” UK staff member will also be in Israel to help the family, he said. 

Capilouto said they are also in contact with the other students who remain in the Middle East. The study abroad group consisted of seven UK students and two West Virginia students.

“They are safe; and we are providing resources as they try to come to terms with what they are experiencing,” he wrote. 

Capilouto thanked the UK International Center team for its “unyielding effort and tireless compassion,” as well as other members of the UK community who have worked since Jones first went missing.

Capilouto reminded members of the campus community to seek help if they need it. 

“As you process this event and other episodes of uncertainty and sadness, seek the comfort of friends and the advice of professionals,” he wrote. “To that end, please know there are resources and caring people on our campus, ready and equipped to help you with all that you are feeling and experiencing.” 

The UK Counseling Center can be reached at (859) 258-8701, or students can visit the office in 106 Frazee Hall between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Students should ask to speak to the Daytime On-Call Clinician and mention that they have experienced a recent loss. For after-hours phone consultation, dial (859) 257-8701 and press “1” when prompted. 

Faculty and staff may also call UKCC or seek support from the Work+Life Connections office with “outstanding” clinicians Ann Bassoni and Rhonda Henry, Capilouto said. That office’s number is (859) 257-8763.

“They are here for you. We all are. Their work and their compassion are powerful signals of the fact that at UK, we all are in this together,” Capilouto wrote to conclude his email.