In 2019, The Island School community lost one of its own, Olivia Wigon, a Spring 2014 alumna, who lost her battle with mental illness and depression by way of suicide last June. Despite her internal struggle, Olivia was a very strong, passionate, friendly and outgoing young woman.
Olivia grew up in Wellesley, Massachusetts but really found her purpose when she decided to study at The Island School. Through The Island School, she was introduced to so many different people who all shared her passion to protect the ocean and marine life.
One of Olivia’s favorite Island School memories was when her research class was surprised with a field day by their teachers and tagged a bluntnose sixgill shark, which was slowly brought to the surface from the depths of the Exuma Sound. Olivia was ecstatic to participate in tagging this enormous shark, and the experience shaped the rest of Olivia’s life and made her purpose clear. From that moment forward, she was set on studying marine life and policy, while being a shark advocate and warrior. She loved telling people about sharks and worked to minimize the fear often associated with these incredible creatures.
Leaving Eleuthera was hard for Olivia, as she fell so deeply in love with the community she found while at The Island School, but she found her way back to Eleuthera a couple more times, once as an intern with the Cape Eleuthera Institute.
Olivia’s greatest accomplishment was bringing the knowledge she learned in The Island School’s academic and research setting to other communities throughout her life. In high school, she was instrumental in envisioning and implementing a unique, one-year interdisciplinary program, Evolutions, a project-based honors class that was based on The Island School’s experiential education methods. As a student at the University of Miami in Florida, Olivia grew her passion for solving environmental issues through her double major in Marine Affairs and Human and Social Development and as an intern with the UMiami Shark Research & Conservation Program.
To celebrate Olivia, two of her friends from The Island School, Robin Garthowohl and Catherine Argyrople, teamed up with Olivia’s siblings, Dorothy and Sam Wigon, to launch the virtual athletic event, LivOn22, happening on what would have been Olivia’s 22nd birthday on July 18th, 2020. This event honors the incredible life of Olivia by getting people up on their feet to raise money for The Island School and The Jed Foundation, a mental health non-profit that focuses on creating mental health, substance misuse and suicide prevention programs for young people.