Obituary of Pauline Jessica Atieno Dande
On the night of September 25, 2020, our dear Pauline Jessica Atieno Dande passed away from complications related to sickle cell anemia and liver disease. Born on July 28th, 1994, Pauline, affectionately known as “PJ,” was the daughter of Asenath Okal and Maurice Dande and sister to Verine (Rina) and Naomi of North Brunswick, New Jersey.
PJ attended North Brunswick Township Schools from 2nd grade at John Adams Elementary School, Linwood Middle School, and North Brunswick Township High School (NBTHS), where she was manager of the girls’ basketball team. After completing high school, she continued to pursue her bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University.
In spite of having been born with severe sickle cell disease and frequent hospitalizations, PJ did not stop from living a full life. In an interview with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, she was quoted as saying, “I try to overcome whatever I think is impossible and find a way to make it happen.” The disease did not stop her from excelling in school, engaging actively in church activities, pursuing a career, and fully enjoying a social life. PJ was a member of New Brunswick Seventh-Day Adventist Church where she served as a leader and a participant in the Adventurers Club and Pathfinder Youth Club. PJ also believed in educating those around her about sickle cell disease and shared her personal battle with many close friends and family.
PJ was full of life and was the center of her family’s attention since her childhood. During her life, she cherished her role as a big sister to Rina and Naomi and was a dependable source of comfort and friendship to them both. She greatly enjoyed the company of her extended family both in the U.S. and in Kenya.
As a daughter to Kenyan immigrants, PJ was very proud of her Kenyan heritage and loved everything about her Luo ethnic culture. She thought it was important to remain connected to her family back home and use her education, talents and experiences to advocate for those who could not advocate for themselves. For example, she advocated for poor and vulnerable women and girls in Migori, Kenya through fundraising efforts and supporting organizations that work with these women and girls. She enjoyed food, especially African foods such as Ugali (cornmeal), sukuma wiki (collard greens) nyama choma (roast beef), kachumbari (tomato, cilantro and onion salad), chapati (flat bread), samosas, jollof rice, and brunches in New York City. PJ also loved African music and enjoyed Afrobeats.
PJ was a global citizen and loved to travel. She fed her desires to see the world by traveling with family and friends. Among friends, PJ was known for her positive attitude and ability to connect young people everywhere through her many travels. She leaves behind close friends from all over the world, including Jamaica, Nigeria, Kenya and the U.S. (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Texas and others).
Prior to her death, she worked as a Human Resources Assistant at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) at Princeton University. Her greatest aspiration was to grow her career in the Human Resources field. In fact, during several weeks of her hospitalization, she was enrolled in the Associate Professional in Human Resources Certification Program. Prior to her employment at PPPL, PJ worked for several years at Rutgers University in different capacities. Among her coworkers and the people she served, she was known as a hardworking, smart, gentle, helpful and highly skilled worker. Everywhere she worked, she loved her job and she did it with a big smile on her face.
PJ, you have left a lasting mark in our lives and you will be greatly missed by all of us who loved you.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Pauline Dande, please visit Tribute Store