Friends, family reflect on student activist’s life

Dinsio Walo-Wright, a senior communications studies major, died on Nov. 28, 2019.

Left: Dinsio Walo-Wright speaks at the 2018 Women’s March Rome on Jan. 20, 2018. Right: Dinsio Walo-Wright poses for a portrait. | SAILUME WALO-ROBERTS / COURTESY

As a child, Dinsio Walo-Wright already understood the need for equality in the world, which makes it unsurprising that she grew up to be an activist, said Paul Wright, her father.

Walo-Wright, a senior communications studies major, was involved in numerous social justice organizations, including Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, a nonprofit refugee center in Rome, It’s On Us TU, a campus organization aimed at raising awareness of sexual violence, and Temple Students for Justice in Palestine, said Sailume Walo-Roberts, her mother.

“She cared about the world,” Walo-Roberts said. “She always had alliances with those who were less fortunate or those considered on the margins or underprivileged.”

Walo-Wright, described by those who knew her as “fearless” and “energetic,” died of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a rare brain tumor, on Nov. 28, 2019. She was 22. 

Walo-Wright graduated from St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City, according to a program for her celebration of life. She began at Temple in Fall 2015 and was working toward a certificate in geographic information systems in addition to her major, said Debra Powell-Wright, her stepmother.

While at Temple, Walo-Wright helped found Student Activists Against Sexual Assault, a campus organization whose goal is to provide resources to survivors of sexual violence, alongside Kirsten Vagle, a 2019 religion alumna and friend of Walo-Wright’s, Vagle said.

“Her impact is huge, and it’s amazing that someone can do that in 22 years,” Vagle said.

Scott Gratson, the director of Temple’s communication studies program, said Walo-Wright had an “effervescent” personality. The two would often discuss French pop music, he said.

“We are truly, truly at a loss and she will be missed in the [communication studies] program,” Gratson said.

Walo-Wright spent her junior year studying at Temple University Rome, Powell-Wright said.

“She was a student who made a great impact in our community and programme,” Temple University Rome wrote in a Facebook post after her death. 

Full of energy, Walo-Wright made Temple Rome feel more welcoming to students, said Benedicta Djumpah, Temple Rome’s student life assistant. 

“Her presence would just light up the environment,” Djumpah said.

In Rome, Walo-Wright interned at Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, an experience that made her “so happy,” Walo-Roberts said.

“Every time I talked to her, she was telling me about all the things they were doing with the refugees, but also telling me about their lives and you know, how does this displacement impact them,” Walo-Roberts added.

As an intern giving computer and English classes to refugees, Walo-Wright’s “bright optimism and her desire to make a difference were an inspiration to many,” the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center wrote in a Facebook post. 

Walo-Wright spoke on behalf of the center at the 2018 Women’s March Rome.

“As a child, I was taught to always speak up for those whose voices could not be as loud as mine,” Walo-Wright said in the speech. “I was taught that when you have privilege and power, it is a responsibility to use it in the aid of those who do not have it.”

Walo-Wright was diagnosed with DIPG in July 2018 and did not attend school the following semester, Powell-Wright said. There is no known cure for DIPG, according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

Toward the end of her life, Walo-Wright told her friends not to mourn her, but rather to celebrate her after she died, said Amal Abdelfattah, a 2016 recreational therapy alumna.

“[Walo-Wright] hated funerals,” according to program for her celebration of life. “She was very clear about what she wanted. And what she wanted was a party. A big one.”

“You can meet soulmates who are supposed to be your friend,” Vagle said. “She was a soulmate to everyone.”

Approximately $3,000 has been donated in Walo-Wright’s memory to The Cure Starts Now, a foundation dedicated to finding a cure for DIPG.


  1. What an amazing young lady. How dare we honor her wishes and celebrate instead of cry in our selfishness of wanting to keep her near. How dare we not! Because her Heavenly Soul is good. She shared her love in short and long intervals — tho short, I Got it. Enjoy Heaven Beautiful.

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