Levy Thamba, of the Republic of Congo, Africa, began attending Northwest in late January. He apparently traveled to Denver during the college’s spring break.
Thamba’s death remains under investigation, according to Sonny Jackson, a spokesman for the Denver Police Department, but foul play is not suspected.
Thamba fell from a balcony at the Holiday Inn Denver East at 3333 Quebec St. between 3-4 a.m. Tuesday, Jackson said. How far he fell, and what caused the fall, have not been determined, Jackson said.
Emelee Volden, NWC intercultural program manager, said Thamba arrived a few weeks after the semester started.
“He got stuck in that last big snowstorm back East, and his flight was delayed for several days,” Volden said.
Despite his late arrival, “it was very apparent that he was a stellar student,” Volden said.
Thamba was studying engineering and was taking advanced math.
Although at Northwest for less than a month and a half, Thamba made friends and was very active with the NWC multicultural club and events.
“His social life showed that he was a very nice person,” she said. “He made a lot of friends in a short amount of time.”
Thamba came to rural Powell from Kinshasa, a city of 9 million people and the third largest urban area in Africa.
Thamba wrote an essay to qualify for an international scholarship program. In his essay, Volden said, he spoke of his brother’s encouragement for him to fulfill his dream.
In December, Thamba wrote a tribute to Nelson Mandela on Facebook. Like millions of other young people, he also posted photos of family members and friends.
He displayed his interest in the TV show “Top Gear,” musician Bob Marley and NBA star Dwight Howard.
Thamba’s death is “pretty devastating,” Volden said. “It’s shocking, so sad. He made such an impression in so short an amount of time.”
News of Thamba’s death prompted many people to post on Thamba’s Facebook page messages of shock and grief and expressions of support for his family.
“Your value was one all cherished,” wrote Leronz Otarel Nkosi. “The world has lost a true gentlemen.”
The NWC Intercultural Program plans a memorial in Thamba’s honor at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the lounge at the NWC DeWitt Student Center.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of NWC student Levy Thamba,” states a post on the program’s Facebook page. “He will be greatly missed by his friends and family around the world.”
— Tribune Managing Editor Tom Lawrence contributed to this story.