Remembering the life of former CSUN student Savannah Dawkins

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On July 21, Savannah Dawkins, a 26-year-old CSUN journalism alumna, was killed in a tragic automobile accident along with her mother, Nika Dawkins St. Claire, 62, during a road trip near Flagstaff, Arizona.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety police report, their Mazda vehicle was heading east on Interstate 40 around 8 p.m., when it hit a guardrail and plummeted 40 feet down, landing upside down on a train track. Investigators believe Dawkins and her mother were deceased prior to being struck by the train and both were pronounced dead at the scene.

For those who knew Dawkins, they will always remember her as a sincere, friendly and positive young woman that left a mark wherever she went.

“When I heard about Savannah’s passing I was heartbroken but I also feel fortunate enough to have known her,” Jonnae Thompson, a CSUN alumna and close friend of Dawkins said. “I am still in disbelief but I know that she made an impact on my life and others. Kindness and sincerity is something that Savannah possessed and is something that I will use as a reminder in my own life.”

Like most young adults, Dawkins was not only remembered for her sweet persona, but love of fast foods as well.

“What I remember most about Savannah is that she had that cheerful personality that made a sad person happy,” Mustafa Divan, friend and CSUN alumnus said. “I also remember the many trips to McDonald’s drive-thru for her favorite meal–large fries and a medium chocolate shake.”

Dawkins was born on October 4, 1985, in the San Francisco Bay area and graduated from Berkeley High School in 2003. She attended CSUN that same year, where she majored in journalism, worked as a resident advisor and wrote articles for the Daily Sundial.

“We met in our freshmen year at CSUN in Psychology 150,” said Genise Thornton, a long time friend of Dawkins. “She was a good writer and I always read every one of her articles.”

After graduating in 2009 with a B.A. in journalism, she worked at a community outreach program where she taught kids, and later found teaching as her true calling. Dawkins had taken education classes in San Francisco for the past two semesters and recently applied to teach English overseas in Korea.

“She always loved Korean culture and she (listened to) K-pop,” Thornton said. “She had this really big anime collection that she adored.”

Thornton further describes Dawkins as a movie lover and traveler, with a big heart.

“She liked action and comedy movies a lot, and we would go to Magic Mountain and always  to Las Vegas, where we had a such a great time,” Thornton said. “She also loved taking pictures of her friends and family. Savannah was the best friend I could have ever ask for and I could talk to her about anything, she was always there for me.”

Remembered as intelligent, funny, dependable, and outgoing, Dawkins and her mother were laid to rest earlier this month, on Aug. 3.

“We met my freshman year at CSUN through a mutual friend and I really loved her extremely positive personality and admired her vast knowledge of anime,” said Jason Stoll, a CSUN alumn and friend. “When I heard about her passing I was extremely shocked and saddened.  It just goes to show that friendships should be cherished at all times, because life is too short.”

She is survived by her loving father Bill Dawkins of Oakland and brother Miles, and his three daughters.


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