East Rockaway journalist and organ donation advocate Taylor Rose Clarke dies at 24

Taylor Rose Clarke was a lot to different people.

The 24-year-old East Rockaway native was a sister, daughter, promising young journalist, organ donation advocate and super fan of the Jonas Brothers. She was a good friend to many, sent her sister unsolicited music playlists and loved her rescue dogs Millie and TJ

After receiving a heart transplant in 2016 following heart failure from mitochondrial disease, she shaped a determined life and practiced gratitude for the extra time the procedure gave her, those who knew her said. .

“She was just the funniest person. Super smart and driven. A role model for everyone,” said her older sister, Samantha Clarke of Fairfax, Virginia. “Even my parents and I say, in some ways, that we got to admire it.”

Clarke died on July 9 of complications from a mitochondrial disease, which affects energy production and cell function. It was two weeks before his 25th birthday.

Samantha Clarke described their family of four – including the siblings’ mother, Laura, and their father, Jack – as a close unit that turned to each other throughout Taylor’s illness. Clarke.

Taylor Clarke’s first journalistic experience was working for The East Rockaway Gull, her high school newspaper. After high school, she decided to pursue education studies at Marist College, her sister said. She left Marist after falling ill and then decided to do journalism after the heart transplant.

“When you have a second chance at life, it makes you think, and it’s like, ‘Well, actually, I really like doing that,’” Samantha Clarke said. “She reassessed her priorities.”

Taylor Clarke then enrolled at Hofstra University, where she graduated with a journalism degree in 2020 and was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Hofstra Chronicle.

At The Chronicle, a story she wrote about the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity’s hazing suspension has garnered her numerous accolades, including the 2020 Fair Media Council Folio Award for Student Business and the 2020 Press Club Award. of Long Island for best student journalism newspaper. journalist.

Clarke did internships at Newsday and NBC and had accepted a scholarship with Business Insider before she fell ill, her sister said.

Kelly Fincham – former associate professor of journalism at Hofstra and now director of the Global Media and Communication Program at the National University of Ireland, Galway – said Clarke was one of the hardest working students she has ever had. known and gave 110% to everything she did. Fincham described his teaching as an absolute joy.

“It breaks my heart to know that Taylor has passed away,” Fincham said. “She was truly one in a million and the world is poorer for her passing. I can only hope her family knows how special she was to all of us at Hofstra and how much we treasured her time with us.”

Newsday’s social media editor Gabriella Vukelic said Clarke was so talented that her social media internship for the summer of 2019 was extended until the end of this year.

“She was so sweet and always so kind and was a fast learner,” Vukelic said. “We even bonded to be superfans of the Jonas Brothers when we were younger. My deepest condolences to her family. She will be missed.”

Clarke lived mostly a normal life after the 2016 transplant, but fell ill again last September, her sister said. She received treatment at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla from that time until her death.

A funeral mass was celebrated Wednesday at St. Raymond Roman Catholic Church in East Rockaway. She was buried in Holy Rood Cemetery in Old Westbury.

Samantha Clarke said her sister, who volunteered for organ donation advocacy organization Live On New York, would like others to learn about organ donation and join the donor registry. of their state.

“She’s lived the most amazing life and accomplished so much after the transplant,” she said. “She really took that second chance at life and grabbed it.”

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