Business administration senior Nicole Scalone died in a car accident the morning of Wednesday, June 12. She was expected to graduate at the Spring 2019 commencement ceremony this weekend.
She will be posthumously awarded her degree, according to a campus-wide email.
“The university is in contact with her family to offer our support, and our thoughts are with them and Nicole’s friends during this difficult time,” the email read.
According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune,California Highway Patrol said two people were killed in a head-on collision on Highway 101 near Higuera Street Wednesday around 2:30 a.m.
Scalone, a Washington native, was reportedly driving in the wrong lane when the collision occurred. CHP said it has not been determined whether or not alcohol or drug impairment was a factor in the crash.
Counseling services are available to students.
Nicole’s father, Joe Scalone, describes Nicole as “the kindest and most considerate person in the world.”
Nicole volunteered at a food bank in south Seattle every year, visited The Humane Society frequently and mentored other students. She was the type of person who always wrote cards for loved ones and remembered to bring back thoughtful presents when she traveled.
Joe wanted his daughters to have strong, female role models growing up. Often, when Nicole was in trouble, Joe would ask her, “What would Shirley Chisholm do?” Chisholm was the first black woman elected to U.S. congress and the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States. The question became both a loved and humorous saying in the family.
When Nicole marched in the 2019 Women’s March, she carried a poster she made with Chisholm’s campaign slogan, “Unbought and unbossed.” Joe said Nicole grew into a strong woman herself and showed maturity beyond her years.
“Not just solving problems for yourself, but for other people too and not being afraid to have courage. She learned that and did that and wanted to do that,” Joe said.
At Cal Poly, Nicole was a mentor to students in the Orfalea College of Business Peer Mentoring Program and was a member of Women in Business. After her freshman year, she was awarded the first iteration of the Lisa Hufford scholarship, awarded to students in Women in Business who live out the core values of the organization: integrity, clarity, respect, excellence and influence.
Women in Business co-founder and alumna, Shelby Sly, wrote to Mustang News that Nicole truly embodied those values.
“I always knew Niki to be an incredibly bright, energetic and immensely kind young woman,” Sly wrote. “I was immediately struck by her maturity and drive to set herself up for success in all she did… always being one of the most proactive and willing students to jump in and help no matter what task.”
In addition to being a full-time student, Nicole had a PR and Event Planning internship with the Downtown SLO Association, babysat and worked a part-time job. She had a job lined up at Costco’s corporate headquarters after graduation.
On top of school and work, she was known to pack her calendar with adventures and time with friends. She studied abroad in Italy and recently took a trip to Dublin with her cousin, right after they both traveled by car from Pennsylvania to Portland through storms and nearby tornadoes. Just weeks ago, she texted her father out of the blue to say she was going skydiving in 20 minutes. A video of the jump followed.
2019 Agricultural Business graduate Jessica Evaristo was roommates with Nicole when they studied abroad together in Florence. Evaristo wrote to Mustang News that even when things went wrong, Nicole treated every person and situation with kindness.
She also wrote while in Italy, they both made sure to eat gelato every day.
“Even when we returned home, Nicole seemed to have a good understanding of filling her life with the things and people she loved,” Evaristo wrote.
Nicole’s brother, Michael, wrote to Mustang News that Nicole was “an incredibly kind sister and friend.”
“She wanted the world to be a better place and would want her passing to serve as a reminder to cherish those around you everyday.”
This story was updated with information about Nicole’s life.
Correction: A previous version of the article listed the wrong day of the week. The crash happened Wednesday morning.