Administrative Executive Editor
Fall semester 2019 started with a notice sent out to all the Keene State students on August 24. The notice informed everyone of the unexpected demise of Nicholas Leppla, a student at Keene State College who was about to start his senior year. He was majoring in Computer Science and was on the rugby team.
According to an obituary published by Dignity Memorial Nick enjoyed skiing, vacations with his family, working out at the gym, lifeguarding at Lake Hills and spending time with his friends from Keene.
Vice President of Student Affairs Kemal Atkins encouraged students through his email to reach out to the Center for Health and Wellness. The counselors are available to any students needing support during this time.
“Please do not hesitate to speak with a counselor, and if you have a friend who might need help as well, let them know that support is available and urge them to reach out. We all must support each other,” Kemal said via email.
One of the counselors available, Brenda McEachern said she encourages students to seek help.
“I can only imagine the shock people might be experiencing and it’s important for them to take care of themselves and to seek as much as support within friend groups that were connected with him,”McEachern said. “Grieving is different for everybody, there is no one way. There is no right way to grieve, everyone has their own experience. I encourage whatever you are feeling to allow yourself to feel it, if you are not feeling anything at the moment, that’s okay too.”
According to the email sent out by Atkins, appointments with a counselor are available on a drop-in basis between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and a counselor is always available after business hours and on weekends by calling the crisis hotline at (603) 358-2436. The Center for Health and Wellness is located on the third floor of Elliot Center and the office phone number is (603) 358-2437.
According to McEachern, there are past cases of students seeking help from the center. “We’ve gone out into the college community if requested to do so, we are happy to do that. We have had groups of students come here needing to talk about their experiences and their feelings about having a hard time [and] individuals coming in.”
KSC President Melinda Treadwell also sent her regards to grieving students.
“He will be deeply missed. I hope we can honor him. I hope we can understand and help support the students and make sure we’re there when students need us,” Treadwell said. “We’re working with the family for a memorial service and the campus will hear more about this.”
According to the obituary, a memorial service to celebrate Nick’s life will be held on Saturday, September 7 at 11 a.m. at Fairfield Grace United Methodist Church, 1089 Fairfield Woods Road, Fairfield, CT. A memorial service will be held at Keene State College in the near future.
Puja Thapa can be contacted at