Though Sophia Jones ’27 spent just three months as an undergraduate at Princeton before her unexpected death on campus on Nov. 29 at age 18, she made the most of it.
“She seemed to know, already, so many people,” said her father, Benjamin Jones ’95, who added that their family has received an “enormous number” of notes from Jones’ classmates since her death, “which has been very meaningful to us.”
Juliet Sorensen ’95 said her daughter was “a brilliant and sensitive young woman. She was deeply kind. She cherished her friends and family. She had a sense of fun. She was funny. She was an outstanding student.”
W. Rochelle Calhoun, vice president for campus life, sent an email to the campus community on Nov. 30 saying that Jones had “unexpectedly passed away” late the previous evening. Further details, such as the cause of death, were not released, and her parents declined to elaborate in an interview with PAW.
Jones and Sorensen credited their “glorious” and “bright” daughter for energetically pursuing her passions, which included ballet, animals, and baking.
For her application to Princeton, Jones wrote about ballet, which she started practicing at the age of 2, to answer the question “What brings you joy?”
“She said that she feels most joyful when she’s leaping across the studio floor, and so she was thrilled when she was accepted into the Princeton University Ballet (PUB) and had the opportunity to perform with them last month,” said Sorensen.
Jones performed in four pieces of Symphony, PUB’s November show, which Sorensen attended with Jones’ grandmother, who “couldn’t get over how good it was, the quality of the performance, given that all of these students are full-time students,” said Sorensen. “They’d only been rehearsing for less than two months. It was exquisite.”
Jones at one point considered a career in ballet, though she later hoped to become a pediatric specialist. She intended to major in molecular biology at Princeton.
Sorensen said Jones recently saved the life of their dog Archie, by finding a mass on one of Archie’s legs while hugging him when she was home in Chicago during the October break. It turned out to be a cancerous tumor, and Archie later successfully underwent surgery.
During the pandemic, Jones developed an interest in baking. “The first time she baked, I think she used sugar instead of flour,” Benjamin Jones said with a laugh. “It didn’t go well. But she kept going, and by Thanksgiving of that year, she had a little baking business … and she made lots and lots of pies and cakes and very complicated things.”
According to Jones, his daughter’s chocolate eclairs “were pretty epic.”
This Thanksgiving, Jones, her parents, and her younger siblings Hugh and Thea met in New York City, where Jones, with some help from her father, made what he called “beautiful and delicious” pies — one apple and one pumpkin — from scratch.
In addition to PUB, Jones tutored middle school students as a fellow with the University’s Science Outreach program and was a member of Yeh College.
Sorensen and Jones credited the University for being “extremely supportive in every dimension.”
According to a Dec. 6 post on the Princeton homepage, “the University has extended condolences to the family, and on Thursday, Nov. 30, hosted an opportunity for students to gather, reflect, and support one another.”
Gifts in Jones’ honor can be made to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago, where she danced for many years, and PAWS Chicago, a nonprofit no-kill animal shelter that Sorensen said “meant a lot” to her daughter.