Remembering Brianna Smarkusky

Friends, family, professors reminisce

Brianna Smarkusky passed away on Jan. 12. She was a senior biology major at Wilkes.

Courtesy of Kasaundra Barclay

Brianna Smarkusky passed away on Jan. 12. She was a senior biology major at Wilkes.

Brianna Rose Smarkusky was a beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, girlfriend, niece, aunt and a friend to many. Several individuals in the Wilkes community have reflected on the beautiful life Smarkusky led and how this loss is affecting them.   

Her kind smile, contagious laugh and caring nature will be deeply missed.

“She was super nice,” Chloe Musselman, friend of Smarkusky said. “[Brianna] was the kind of the person that honestly would give you the clothes off her back if she could.”

She was always worrying more about others more than herself, Musselman said.

“Though I did not have the privilege of knowing Brianna, I have come to know that she lived her life with such zest and enthusiasm, accomplishing so much in her young life,” Susan Biskup, campus counselor said.

Brianna valued her family, friends, her boyfriend, Adam Werner, her farm and her farm animals the most Kasaundra Barclay, friend of Smarkusky, said.

Smarkusky was a humble and hard working young woman who aspired to be an optometrist. Dr. Kenneth Klemow, biology professor described her as an extremely dedicated, driven and diligent student.

“She was my star research student this year. Losing her from a personal level and a professional level really hurt. It was a big loss on so many levels,” Dr. Klemow said.  “My heart goes out to her family, and I think we are all pretty devastated about what happened.”

Smarkusky inspired and even challenged fellow professors and students to work beyond their potential. She enjoyed seeing others around her succeed.

“I admired how Brianna always remained positive even when she would be taking 18 credits at Wilkes and then an extra four credits at Luzerne County Community College,” Barclay said.

We would rely on each other often during classes, Musselman said. Both Smarkusky and Musselman would always do homework and eat lunch at Grille Works everyday together.

Smarkusky enjoyed talking about her future plans of attending graduate school and making her own name for herself, Musselman said. As a future optometrist, she was fascinated with eyes and loved sharing her knowledge of them.

Not only was she talented academically, but also with sports and 4-H clubs. She played softball, basketball, field hockey, track and field and travel ball. Some of the clubs she was heavily involved with included Wyoming County Grow’em and Show’em, Elk Mountain Baconeers and Wyoming County Beef Club. Smarkusky was a dairy miss, dairy maid and dairy ambassador. She was also crowned 2012-2013 Wyoming-Lackawanna Dairy Princess.

“I don’t know if there’s really anything she wasn’t passionate about. She put her heart 110 percent into everything she did,” Musselman said.

“Brianna was special—she worked hard based on her many accomplishments, and she did so with love,” Susan Biskup, campus counselor said.

Every year, Brianna attended the Bloomsburg Fair with her friends Kasaundra Barclay, Alexandria Gartner and James Ardoline. This was a tradition that was special for all of them.

“She always had a smile on her which people loved the most. She was so loving and caring and was always there for anyone who wanted to vent,” Barclay said.

Biskup believes Brianna’s life has touched many lives, and she truly lived a life worth celebrating.

Grief counselors and group therapy sessions are available on campus. Susan Biskup and Melissa Gaudio are located in Health and Wellness Services on the first floor of Passan Hall. You may contact them through email or by calling 570-408-4730. An after-hours counseling support line can be reached by calling 570-408-CHAT.