This spring marks Chris French's second semester as a music student at Florida A&M University, but he cannot help but remember the pain and irony that helped pave the way to FAMU.
His FAMU journey started on Thursday, Aug.11, 2017 when 17-year-old incoming freshman, Jamahri Sydnor was shot in a drive-by shooting days before her first day of college at FAMU.
While at the hospital, Sydnor's family met French, who was at Washington Hospital Center because his mother was recovering from getting a brain aneurysm clipped.
French offered to pray with Sydnor's family for her recovery. The next day Sydnor died from her injuries.
“Before I got to the hospital Jamahri had passed away and when I arrived, the mood in the ICU was full of sadness and disappointment,” French said.
Later that night, French saw Sydnor’s parents. They asked him if he was ready for school. He thought they were just making conversation.
“I told her mom I was really excited, I needed to hurry and buy things for my dorm before everything (in the stores) was gone,” French said.
French had no idea Sydnor's family wanted to donate all of her dorm essentials to French and they gave him money for anything else he needed to start his journey at FAMU.
Sydnor’s mother asked French what he needed, but as he attempted to decline her offer she told him to come to her house and get anything he needed since she no longer had use for it.
“This wasn’t something we thought about, it wasn’t planned,” said Jamahri’s mother Que Sydnor. "We saw Chris had on his FAMU hat and we realized, this is what she would want. Jahmahri was so giving and even after her death she has had an impact."
The next day French went over and the family gave him a trunk full of things for his dorm. Que also gave him money to get things like bedding since some of Jamahri’s things were "girly."
“I didn’t know how to accept all these things from her especially because of what happen to Jamahri, but her mother wouldn’t let me say no and I couldn’t stop thanking her!” French exclaimed.
Since French’s mother was still recovering in the hospital, the family gathered around him and prayed for him just like he gathered with them to pray for Jamahri.
“I was overwhelmed, shocked, grateful, excited, appreciative, and sad,” said French’s mother. I also just prayed for them, I felt hurt and helpless but hopeful knowing God would heal and grant Jamarhi’s mother peace of mind.”
French keeps in touch with the family till this day and says he is forever grateful.
“He blessed us by praying for us. So, we blessed him in the same way Jamahri would have. We impacted someone’s life through her and I feel like he’s a son now,” Que said.