Whether comforting their friends or learning new trades like candle-making, Kenaizha Ezell was full of passion, especially when it came to art, education, astrology and the people they cared so deeply about.
“You can definitely feel that with them – the kind of person they are – regardless of whether you were super close friends with them,” said Georgia Rosse, a junior advertising major and Ezell’s roommate.
Ezell, a former art therapy major at Temple University who went by “Nage,” was reported missing during a mental health crisis on Dec. 9 and found dead on Dec. 22, according to their sister’s Instagram.
Ezell used art as a form of healing, said Eve Campbell, a junior journalism major and one of Ezell’s roommates.
“A really big thing for them was dealing with trauma through art,” Campbell said.
They also enjoyed clothing and sewing, and planned to start a candle business, Rosse said.
After withdrawing from Temple University, Ezell remained committed to learning, reading books about business and entrepreneurship along with fiction like The Alchemist.
“Every couple of days there would be a new book coming in,” said Jillian Villafuerte, a junior graphic design major and a roommate. “She would show us the back-up books that she wanted to read.”
From Kanye West to Tyler, the Creator, Ezell was also passionate about music.
“I had the room right next to them and they were always playing music all day, but it would never annoy me because it was always good,” Rosse said.
Astrology played an important role in Ezell’s life, specifically for how it helped them make sense of certain conversations.
“They had so much knowledge about astrology and like, just such a unique and interesting perspective about what signs make people a certain way,” Rosse said
Ezell was a caring person and provided encouragement to the people they met, whether they were strangers or the closest of friends.
“If one of us was drawing or doing art in our living room, they were there, they would ask to see what we were doing and be like ‘Wow, that’s so amazing,’” Villafuerte said.
If she was bored, Deesarine Ballayan knew to call Ezell. They would spend hours wandering Philadelphia together, exploring thrift stores and coffee shops.
“It seemed like we were talking about nonsense,” said Ballayan, a junior journalism major. “But in those moments, it meant the world to us.”
When Rosse needed someone to talk to, she knew that she could talk to Ezell when she came home.
“Nage really was always there for all of us during that time we were living there,” she said.
A few weeks after moving in together, Rosse and Villafuerte remember going out with Ezell and telling everyone they encountered they were roommates. That night, the three stayed up dancing and watched the sunrise in their apartment.
Rosse opened up to Ezell faster than she does with most people because of Ezell’s lack of judgment.
“I feel like that’s really hard to find in people,” Campbell said. “Just someone that’s so able to read how you feel without having to say anything to them.”
During a particularly difficult time for Campbell, Ezell always knew what to say. They constantly reminded Campbell that her feelings were valid and the importance of expressing them, Campbell said.
While Ezell engaged in serious conversations, they also had a youthful energy that brought light to dark situations, Campbell said.
“That was why it was so nice to be around them, especially during the past few months where I feel like we were all kind of stressed out,” she said.
Rosse will hold her memories with Ezell close to her heart forever, she said.
“I’m really thankful that I was able to have that time spent with Nage,” she added.