By Christine Peterson of the Daily Campus
Pawel Sywak, 20, died on January 26. Pawel graduated from Wilton High School in Wilton, Connecticut in 2009 and was a University of Connecticut junior majoring in engineering. He was also a member of Alpha Delta Phi, a fraternity on campus.
His mother, Monika Sywak, said that Pawel loved being at UConn. He identified with the school, and was a big supporter in UConn basketball.
"He was living and breathing UConn," said Mrs. Sywak.
He was very involved on campus and was proud to be a part of the campus community, she said.
Mrs. Sywak said Pawel wanted to work for the military when he graduated with his degree in engineering, out at sea fixing the equipment in planes.
"He really wanted a more hands-on engineering job, not just working on a computer," she said.
In addition, Pawel had a passion for soccer. He enjoyed all sports, but soccer was his favorite. He played for the Wilton Warriors in high school.
"He played soccer, he watched soccer; soccer was just his number one sport," said Mrs. Sywak.
Pawel had actually been accepted to volunteer for the UEFA (Union of European Football Association) during the summer, where he would help out during games.
"He especially wanted to be able to cheer on the Polish soccer team," Mrs. Sywak said.
Pawel, who lived in America for 17 years of his life, felt a strong connection with his Polish heritage and to the Polish community. During the summer, Pawel enjoyed camping with his family in Poland.
"It was very raw camping. If you wanted to take a shower, you go to the lake," Mrs. Sywak said. Pawel went to Poland in the summer six times.
Pawel was consistently described by his friends and family as a great guy all around. He was hard not to like and was easy to spend time with.
"He had a great personality, and he was a great friend…he knew exactly what to say if you were down," said Gabe Quieros, Pawel's friend and fellow student at UConn.
During high school, Pawel worked at the YMCA in Wilton. He volunteered with the Friends and Buddies program, where he worked with mentally disabled children. He helped them swim and played games with them one-on-one. His mother said she thought it made a very profound impact on Pawel because he was involved with the program throughout high school. Fittingly, Pawel was a member of Alpha Delta Phi, whose philanthropy is with the Special Olympics program.
Pawel was a lot of fun to be around and had a terrific sense of humor, according to his friends.
Dani Jenkins, another friend who attended high school with Pawel, said he was really nice and funny. She said he always made her laugh during their math class.
His mother, more than anything, stressed Pawel's determination to be a good older brother to his ten-year-old brother Alex. Pawel used to go to his brother's hockey games even though he himself had never played, and he was there for his brother whenever he was sad.
"He looked after his brother, and even though their ages were so far apart, they were very close," Mrs. Sywak said.
Pawel's funeral [was] scheduled for Friday, February 3, 2012 at 11:00 a.m., at Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church located at 229 Danbury Road, Wilton, CT 06897.
Condolences to the Sywak family can be sent to the Office of Student Services and Advocacy, Unit 4062.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Campus, UConn's Student Newspaper. The original article can be found here.