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The GW Hatchet

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Friends mourn boxer, international affairs student after his death at 20

Courtesy of Serena Lum
Senior international affairs student Charley Poor.

Senior Charles “Charley” Poor, an international affairs student with a focus in economics, died last month after accidentally drowning while on spring break. He was 20.

Poor was a member of GW Club Boxing with a talent for cooking. His peers and professors remember him as a bright student, loving friend and determined boxer who was never afraid to try new things and lit up any room he walked into.

“He was his authentic self all the time,” senior Nicolas Camargo said. “He wasn’t pretending to be someone else, so to me that indicated not only was he comfortable in his own shoes, but that he felt that he could be himself here and he wasn’t afraid to show that.”

Poor was born April 2, 2003, in San Diego, California, and graduated in 2021 from Moline High School, a public high school in Illinois near the state’s border with Iowa. He was on track to graduate from GW a year early.

Camargo, who is also a Hatchet reporter, said he was one of Poor’s suitemates during the fall semester of his junior year before studying abroad in the spring. He said the first time he met Poor was likely during move-in, and their other interactions usually consisted of watching TV, playing video games and hanging out with any friends that Poor brought to their room.

“He was a good roommate,” Camargo said. “He would always cook food for us. He’s the type of guy who even after a sh*tty day, he’d always be in a good mood and he’d lift your spirits. You could have the worst day at your classes or at your internship and he’d be there.”

Camargo said Poor would always make additional servings of food for guests after cooking for his girlfriend, Mikaela Jackson. He said he was surprised the first time Poor made one of his signature feasts when the pair first started living together.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is really generous,’” Camargo said. “It’s one of those small memories. It’s stuck with me.”

Camargo said Poor made delicious fried chicken and cooked other items like rice, beans, desserts and other dishes “more diverse” than what he or his roommates could.

“Cooking was definitely — I don’t know if you call it passion or like a hobby of his — but he had a gift for it,” Camargo said.

Camargo said Poor would stay up late playing his favorite video games, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and “Grand Theft Auto V,” along with their other roommates last year. Camargo said a week before spring break, he played video games with Poor’s current roommates while he was gone and reminisced on the times last year when they and their other roommates would be sitting on the couch doing the same thing.

“That’s what my thoughts turned to when I heard the news,” Camargo said.

Camargo said Poor had a “go-getting, try it out” attitude and would always give new experiences his best shot.

“There were more than a few times when I was making my bland cornflakes and whatever, and I saw that he was frying something bizarre with egg and I gave him a look,” Camargo said. “He was adventurous in that sense.”

Camargo said he and Poor took U.S.-China Relations with Bob Sutter, a professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs, in fall 2022. He added that Poor was “sharp” and knew the course material well.

“He doesn’t consider himself a genius, but like he is,” Camargo said. “It wasn’t as much the kind of taught genius, he’s just kind of ingrained. Since he wouldn’t get stressed about things, he would be able to calmly present something or read something and he wouldn’t get bogged down in the stress of it.”

Camargo said he hopes the vigil at the tempietto in Kogan Plaza, which the GW Club Boxing team held for Poor last month, becomes an annual occasion.

“Sometimes, when we are at GW, we are wound up so tight,” Camargo said. “We’re going so fast. We’re doing a million different things at any given time. We forget that at the end of the day none of this matters if you hate yourself while you’re doing it, and you’re so exhausted to enjoy it, and I feel like Charley was someone who enjoyed life. He enjoyed the little things.”

Camargo said he and others who were close with Poor have been “frank and open” about their memories with him as a way to care for each other while grieving his loss. He added that he attended Poor’s vigil with one of their mutual friends, where they both signed a project board for Poor with the center portion full of pictures of him and his loved ones, as well as messages from community members on the folds.

“We just reminisced about the good memories we had, the good times,” Camargo said. 

Elizabeth Chacko, a professor of geography and international affairs, said she had Poor in her Population Geography class this semester and was “shocked” when she read the news of his death. She said she enjoyed having him in her class.

“He was intellectually curious, asked great questions, was not afraid to voice his thoughts and views on the course materials and was seemingly always in a cheerful mood,” Chacko said in an email. “I am sad that the life of a bright young man with a promising future was cut short in such a cruel twist of fate.”

Junior Ian McHugh, an economics student and one of the co-captains of GW Club Boxing, said he met Poor last year when he joined the group and watched him grow his fundamental boxing skills, like his footwork and form when throwing punches. He said Poor was dedicated to the sport and always eager to gain more experience.

“He fought in an event we participated in last spring at our boxing gym, and as someone who has stepped in the ring competitively before, I can tell you that it takes a lot of courage and willpower to do that sort of thing,” McHugh said in a message.

McHugh added that Poor put in “hours and hours” of training before he fought in the event.

“I really have respect for him and what he accomplished in doing that and training for it,” McHugh said. “Not to mention the presence he brought to our team. Very, very friendly guy. Always a good conversation to be had with him during and after practices.”

Senior Jatin Nayyar, a business administration student and the boxing club’s co-captain, said Poor always came into any team event “jovial” and outgoing.

“Never really a sour moment or a sour attitude I’ve seen from the kid,” Nayyar said. “He was just one of those guys who was just trying to spread positivity and be there and help people.”

Serena Lum, a junior at Tulane University, said she and Poor lived on the same floor in Lafayette Hall their first year before she transferred out of GW the next year. Lum said she and Poor formed a friend group with their floormates and she frequently watched him play video games and listened to him talk about things that came to his mind.

“He’s the type of person who could really talk about anything and talk about it like really intelligently and thought out,” Lum said. “I’d listened to him for like hours talk about anything that was on his mind whether it was like video games or like the economy or some like random sh*t, he’d always have something.”

Poor is survived by his parents, Robert and Santina Poor; his brothers, Lewis Poor and their wife, Julian Oxford-Lannholm, and Martin “MJ” Poor; his grandmothers, Wanda Poor and Joan Stava; his girlfriend, Mikaela Jackson; and aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Editor’s Note: If any family members or friends of Poor would like to provide further comment for the story, email The Hatchet at [email protected].

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