First-year College of Law student dies of Cystic Fibrosis
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014 18:01
Ariel Maria St. Etienne, a first year student at Loyola College of Law, died on Dec. 31, 2013 at the age of 23 due to complications from Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system. It is also a progressive disease which requires more treatment as the patient grows older.
At 23 years old Ariel, Ari to her friends and family, had traveled through Europe, joined a sorority, graduated from Tulane University, started law school, and according to her close friends, left a lasting impression on everyone who knew her.
According to her friends, St. Etienne knew how to live and taught them all that the most important thing for a person to do is to live life to its absolute fullest.
Judy Fustok met St. Etienne at Metairie Park Country Day School when they were in the 7th grade but said that they didn’t truly become best friends until one afternoon when they went to lunch.
“Ariel was my best friend. She was my ‘person.’ This is a weird way to put it but if you watch Grey’s Anatomy you’ll get the reference. We’ve known each other since the 7th grade at Country Day, went to Tulane together, lived together for three years, and were best friends up until she passed,” Fustok said.
Fustok said her friendship with St. Etienne had brought her out of her shell.
“She taught me to be strong, speak my mind, and really that nothing can get in your way of being happy,” Fustok said.
A roommate and best friend of St. Etienne’s and Fustok’s, who prefers to be identified only as Kaitlin, said that becoming friends with the two of them was the turning point in her own college life, and that the women opened her up to new experiences.
Kaitlin described St. Etienne as a young woman who was fearless, loyal, selfless, fun, and loved to laugh.
“She danced to literally any song that was playing, she loved to travel, she never let anything get her down. And she laughed, she laughed louder than any person I’ve ever met and I can still hear it when I think of her.” Kaitlin said.
Fustok said that one of her favorite stories of St. Etienne was from their trip to Las Vegas following their 21st birthdays when the two ended up hanging out with Rob Kardashian in the VIP section of a club in Bellagio, Las Vegas.
Fustok also recalled their post-graduation trip through Europe.
“Ariel had never been so far from home, and we got in to Ibiza at 2 a.m. and the hotel room was tiny. We both were gonna go to sleep since it was so late but were feeling homesick, so we decided to go out and eat. We walked around, ate, and instantly felt better,” Fustok said.
However, according to those who knew her, St. Etienne did not let the disease control her or jade her toward life.
“Most people didn’t know about her illness or if they did they didn’t realize how serious it was. She was always so energetic and bubbly that you forgot she had an illness at all,” Fustok said.
“Not a single person would’ve ever known she was sick because she actually lived her life. Ariel came into this world and she lived big and she lived loud and that’s just what she did,” Kaitlin said.
Fustok said that if she could tell Ariel one last thing, she would say, “Honestly, I’d say that heaven is about to get a lot more fun.”
St. Etienne is survived by her mother, father, both grandmothers, the sisters of Sigma Delta Tau, and a variety of other family and friends.
The St. Etienne family asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Ariel’s name.
Lauren Patton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org