The brilliant memories of Josephine “Jobie” Hereford, a cherished member of the community, are still shining brightly in the hearts of her students and friends as the sun sets on the lovely campus of Providence College. They will assemble at St. Dominic Chapel on Saturday, September 30, during Homecoming Weekend, to celebrate Jobie’s life, a remarkable young woman who had the honour of knowing many people. On August 11, 2023, Josephine “Jobie” Hereford ’23 passed away at the young age of 23, having fought a courageous battle with a brain tumour that presented both difficulties and motivation for her path.
Jobie, a passionate women’s and gender studies major, embarked on her academic journey at Providence College in September 2019 as a proud member of the Class of 2023. Her college experience was not without its trials; in June 2021, she received a devastating diagnosis of a brain tumor. The subsequent year was a relentless cycle of surgeries, radiation, medications, and rehabilitation. It was a year that forced her to miss her junior year, but it was also a year that demonstrated her unyielding determination and resilience.
Despite facing unimaginable obstacles, Jobie remained unwavering in her pursuit of education and personal growth. Her indomitable spirit and fierce determination led her back to Providence College in August 2022, determined to graduate in May 2024. She continued to attend classes, demonstrating the kind of perseverance that inspired everyone around her. It was only when her symptoms worsened and the tumor resurfaced that she was reluctantly forced to return home.
During Jobie’s memorial service on August 27 at her high school, Denver Academy in Colorado, her brother, Niko Hereford, shared poignant memories of his sister. He described the immense difficulty of losing Jobie just as she was blossoming into adulthood, full of enthusiasm for the bright future that lay ahead.
“Jobie had been thriving at Providence College, a place that felt like home since she first visited the school,” Niko said, his voice filled with emotion. “She loved the community, the school spirit, and all of the small things associated with being an independent college student. I recall her absolutely loving the slogan, ‘Friars hold doors.'”
It was evident to all who knew her that academic success did not come easily to Jobie. However, her father, John Hereford, and his wife, Andrea Dukakis, made the courageous decision to allow their daughter to attend college across the country, despite their initial concerns about whether she could handle it.
“It was the best decision of her life,” John proudly declared. “Never have more anxious parents separated from their child than us from Jobie that fateful drop-off at Providence College. But she made it work. She grinded harder. She leaned into PC’s unique culture of actually caring about their students. And she showed us this is where she belonged.”
John Hereford’s sentiments were echoed by Abigail T. Brooks, Ph.D., associate professor of women’s and gender studies and department chair at Providence College. Jobie was not just a student; she was a force of nature. She served as a member of the executive board of Women Will, a campus organization dedicated to raising awareness of issues affecting women. While many of Jobie’s courses were held virtually during the pandemic, Brooks had the pleasure of meeting her in person at a community-building event in October 2022.
“Jobie’s deep interest in and commitment to women’s rights and gender justice energized and inspired those around her, both inside and outside the classroom,” Brooks recalled. “Jobie’s smile and laugh, her wisdom, her unwavering dedication to making this world a better place, will forever guide and inspire me and so many others.”
Even during the challenging times, Jobie’s faith and resilience remained strong. College Chaplain Rev. Justin Bolger, O.P., and eight of Jobie’s friends from PC, who were recent graduates, attended her memorial service in Denver. Father Bolger offered a prayer and spoke about hope in the face of darkness, suffering, and tragedy. He shared his love for American folk and Gospel music, reflecting on life as a pilgrimage and sang a favorite hymn, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”
Niko Hereford, Jobie’s brother, spoke of his sister’s intense connection with people, her gift for making others feel special, her unwavering loyalty, and her extraordinary toughness.
“Jobes — the girl who loved so deeply, hugged warmly, smiled big, laughed loud, lived every day to the fullest, welcomed everyone into her circle, pushed for change, worked incredibly hard even when things didn’t come easy, leaned into moments, looked for the good, and was unapologetically herself,” Rosie Morford ’23, one of Jobie’s close friends from San Francisco, California, beautifully described her.
Rosie recalled how Jobie became the “official reservation planner” for Raymond Dining Hall, the campus cafeteria, always welcoming everyone to her table. Her infectious laughter and big smile made everyone feel at home, even during their most challenging days as new students. Rosie fondly remembered the late nights filled with TikTok dance videos and macaroni and cheese cups during their sophomore year, which was marked by the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She reminisced about a weekend getaway to a beach house in Westerly, where genuine smiles were abundant, and camaraderie flourished.
In the hearts of those who knew her, Josephine “Jobie” Hereford lives on as a beacon of resilience, hope, and unbridled enthusiasm. Her spirit continues to inspire the Providence College community, and as they gather to remember her during Homecoming Weekend, they are reminded that her legacy will forever illuminate the path of all who follow in her footsteps.