Obituary for Ayaan Agane

Courtesy of Cate McLaughlin

Ayaan Agane, 33, of Attleboro, Massachusetts, passed away Sept. 1, 2019 in Attleboro’s Sturdy Memorial Hospital.

Agane was born February 2, 1986 in Boston to Jeanne Crawford and the late Mohamed Agane.

She was an English professor at Framingham State University, teaching first-year English classes such as Expository Writing since 2012.

Agane received her bachelor’s degree from Clark University and her master’s degree from UMass Amherst, where she was also an English Ph.D. candidate. She taught College Writing and other English courses there.

According to her colleague and English department chair Desmond McCarthy, she was an “accomplished scholar with a growing number of impressive conference papers and publications.”

One of her remarkable accomplishments was serving as the dramaturge for “Sheekhadii Walaalo/Sister Story,” a performance project  at New World Theater, involving Somali refugee women in western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut.

McCarthy said of Agane, “Ayaan was renowned for her gentle and kind manner with students.  Her classroom was a warm and comfortable learning environment because of her approachable and friendly demeanor and sense of humor.  She was also deeply committed to helping students develop critical reading and research skills and find their voices.  She touched so many lives during her short life.  We will always be inspired by her memory.”

Joe D’Andrea, professor and chair of philosophy and psychology, recently went on a trip to China with Agane and other faculty this past summer.

“She struck me as someone who was curious about the world and in love with all the diversity that the world has to offer,” D’Andrea said. “She had a gentle sense of humor that accompanied well the seriousness with which she approached her work. She loved being in the classroom.”

Elaine Beilin, English Professor Emerita, said in an email, “As department chair, I had the pleasure of observing Ayaan teach Global Perspectives in Literature.

“She was a vigorous, engaged, and enthusiastic presence in the classroom, and I admired her habit of responding to students’ comments by saying encouragingly, ‘I’m curious why you think that.’ Ayaan cared deeply about what students thought and what they wrote,” she said.

Beilin added, “She was a vibrant and devoted teacher.”

Shin Freedman, FSU librarian, said, “Ayaan and I met for the first time in China on the campus of the International University of Business and Economics in Beijing. I was teaching a communication arts course – she, English composition.

“We shared many of the same students and learned we were both teaching three sections of an FSU course five days a week on 95-degree, intensely hot and humid summer days. Whenever we finagled time in between [going] to and from the classroom building, we talked. I often joined her for walks around campus.

“I was struck with her quiet humor about her own name, her family background, and the challenge of teaching Chinese students. I will miss her,” Freedman said.

Agane is survived by her mother Jeanne, her sister Safia, and her brother-in-law, Safia’s husband Shane.

Her memorial service will be held from 3 p.m to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the RJ Ross Funeral Home at 135 South St. in Wrentham.

In lieu of flowers, her family has asked that donations be made to your local food pantry.

[Editor’s note: Dr. Desmond McCarthy is advisor of The Gatepost]