Updated: Sep 29
By Emily Rosenberg
Djeila Barbosa, 21, died on the Framingham State campus Monday, Sept. 18.
Her death was confirmed to the Framingham State community by President Nancy Niemi in an email titled “with profound sadness.”
In her email, Niemi said, “We offer all the love and care in our broken hearts to her family, her loved ones, and to all who are part of their lives.”
Djeila, DJ, was born September 11, 2002 and grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts. She was a junior elementary education major. On campus, she was a member of the Afro-Caribbean Dance Group and worked as a student desk attendant for Residence Life.
A vigil was held on Larned Lawn in honor of Djeila Thursday evening, Sept. 21. Warmth and love was shared as members of the community gathered in a celebration of her life. Candles were passed around to light up the night sky, and pink and white heart-shaped balloons were released into the air.
Niemi opened the vigil by sharing a few words, saying the Framingham State community has been fractured and will be forever changed by the loss of Djeila.
Some of Djeila’s friends spoke, sharing memories and emphasizing how much she was loved.
Alicia, Djeila’s best friend since middle school, was her roommate at Framingham State in Miles Bibb. She said when they first met, she looked at her and said, “Who is this girl trying to tell me what to do?”
She said during eighth grade graduation, she remembers she and four other girls crying so much because they had so many memories together, but she and Djeila were the two who really stayed close.
Alicia said when Djeila joined ACDG, everyone in the group instantly became best friends with Alicia because of Djeila.
She told attendees that whenever they get sad, to think of Djeila and how if she were here, she would “cheer you up instantly.”
Alicia said Djeila was supposed to be her future children’s godmother. “I will make sure they know how much you [Djeila] love them.”
Another of Djeila’s best friends, Clarity, said when she thinks of Djeila, not one bad thought comes to mind.
“It was always laughter,” she said. “She was my backbone, my soul sister. My best friend and my entire heart.” She added Djeila filled the room up with “so much comfort, joy, compassion, and just overall positive energy.
“To know Djeila is to love her,” Clarity said. She said the world is tearing people apart, and people need to treat others the way they want to be treated.
“Keep her in your hearts and make as many visits as you can to her.”
Serena recalled when she met Djeila a year ago. They went to a Red Sox game for $9 because FSAB sold discounted tickets. “My first selfie with her was in the grandstands and you already know Djeila had a big beautiful smile in that photo.
“Djeila was the definition of heart,” she added.
Another memory she recalled was when she was hyping Djeila up as the best dancer on ACDG.
“She humbly disagreed,” Serena said.
Serena added she always wanted her help improving her dance skills, adding just last week, she tried to teach her how to do the Griddy. Djeila looked “so graceful,” while she looked like “a baby deer moving back and forth.”
She said last semester, she suffered an injury that required her to go on crutches and she was reluctant to ask for help. “Djeila would grab a door for me with no questions asked.”
She said a lot of people make fun of her for her constant usage of “fRamily,” which is usually a joke, but the friendship she had with Djeila and their friend group made it serious for her.
Tahnyia said she wanted everyone to remember Djeila for her beautiful smile and constant dancing because “she never stopped.
“She is the only person I have ever met who smiled more than me,” Tahnyia said.
Darrell recalled the first time he met Djeila in his freshman year playing basketball during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said as they were the same major and had almost all the same classes, it was as if they were destined to become friends.
“We used to live in Towers - we would sneak them [Djeila and Alicia] in.” He said she would not want to walk back, so she would sleep over. “One night turned into two nights. Two nights turned into a week. Pretty soon she was my best friend.”
Mia, who was on ACDG, also shared her memories of Djeila. “She was willing to do all the crazy tricks that no one on the team was willing to do,” whether it was standing on her head, backflips, or splits.
Niyah, who is also on ACDG, shared with The Gatepost that she tried out for ACDG at the same time as Djeila. “I started freshman year in utter fear of what college was going to be like.”
Seeing Djeila at dance and running into her on campus, Niyah said, “She never failed to have a smile on her face. … She’s one of the reasons why I’ve opened up, why I felt so welcomed on campus.”
Awa said she met Djeila in her junior year and that during senior year, as she struggled with her mental health, Djeila helped her get out of bed and made sure she took care of herself every day.
Jahlani shared with The Gatepost that he met Djeila through some of his best friends at school. He said his favorite memory of her would be “randomly walking in her room to her dancing in the mirror with her earpods in or making TikToks in the same place and laughing.”
He added, “She was always dancing and bringing good energy wherever she went. She was the life of the party and always had great vibes. She was a really good dancer and artist as well.”
The vigil ended with the placement of flowers in Memorial Grove and paper butterflies made by children at the Early Childhood Center where Djeila worked last semester.
In her email to the community, President Niemi said details about future memorial services will be announced when they become available.
[Editor’s Note: The last names of people who were quoted were not included because the editor did not find it appropriate to intrude upon grieving during the vigil.]