By Sarah Krichel
Najdana Andjelkovic was admired for many things, but her loved ones will remember her most for the way she could light up a room with her presence.
Najdana, a third-year financial mathematics student and vice president of finance of the Ryerson Science Society, died from injuries sustained in a car accident on Oct. 31. She was 25.
“She was truly and honestly so beautiful, inside and out,” said her family friend Tamara Kljajic.
Najdana loved math and volleyball. She had an obsession with Sudoku and made it her life goal to solve a math problem and then create a formula, proposition or theory that she could name after herself.
Those who were close to her remember her beauty, as well as her intelligence.
Sarah Wheatcroft, who played volleyball with Najdana, said everyone loved her immediately when she first subbed in for their team in their volleyball league. Ever since, her talent and personality gelled with the team, on and off the court.
“It’s really rare to find someone like that,” said Wheatcroft. “Everyone was so drawn to her. She lit up the room. She was the cutest, sweetest, nicest person.”
Wheatcroft recalled the last time she saw Najdana. They rode their bikes home, chatting and laughing together. They made plans to hang out again soon.
Nevena Andjelkovic, Najdana’s cousin, said she always looked up to her. “While we were growing up, she was kind of like my role model.”
Najdana was able to pick herself up every time she was down, but Nevena Andjelkovic said she will remember the way she helped others when they needed help getting back up on their feet.
“She went through a lot of hard times where she really struggled, but she was always able to get back on her feet. These last two years I really saw her coming into herself and doing what she loved,” said Nevena Andjelkovic.
When Nevena Andjelkovic was going through hardships in high school, Najdana was the one who was there for her.
“[It was] how she accepted me, how she was always there for me—despite the fact that she was however many years older,” said Nevena Andjelkovic. “She accepted me, understood and really listened.”
“I wish I knew her for longer,” added Wheatcroft, who only met her a month before her death. “I instantly thought, ‘this is someone that I really wanna be around’.”
Najdana oversaw all financial management systems in the science society. But she was also ready to help with whatever was needed, said Cristina Thuppu Mudalige, president of the Ryerson Science Society. With all of Najdana’s commitments, she still remained accountable and handled her responsibilities well.
“She was really cheerful. She was the type of person who would always see the bright side of everything,” Thuppu Mudalige said. “We’ve taken time to appreciate everyone on the team, the time we have with each other.”
Najdana was also part of the tutoring group, The Math Guru. She tutored high school and elementary students and helped them overcome their anxieties about math.
Her words are inspiring to young mathematicians.
“Understand that everyone makes mistakes, even teachers and also not to be afraid to question everything. Curiosity leads to innovation!” she wrote on her personal contact page.
Nevana Andjelkovic said that she knows Najdana is looking out for her and that she will never stop looking up to Najdana.
“I was happy that she was able to find herself. But I just wish that she had more time to keep finding herself and to keep living her life the way she wanted to.”
A walk will take place from Allan Gardans to Kerr Hall’s science lounge on Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. in her memory. There will also be a volleyball drop-in game on Nov. 15 to honour her love for and talent in the sport.
The science society is currently working on creating an award in Najdana’s name.