CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local N.C. A&T State University freshman, who pursued a dream to study computer science even as he fought a rare autoimmune disease, died Saturday after becoming ill on campus.
Jawuan Paul Trotter, 20, of Charlotte, had just returned to the Greensboro university last weekend and was attending a back-to-school event Friday for students when he told a dorm suitemate that he didn’t feel well, his mother said. He became unresponsive after stepping out into a hallway.
Campus police and paramedics tried to revive him, but Trotter later died at the hospital.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the Trotter family,” A&T Chancellor Harold Martin said Saturday. “The Aggie family is deeply saddened by this tragic loss.”
A cause of death was not known Saturday. Trotter was diagnosed with scleroderma as a high school senior in 2010, but his mother, Desiree Trotter, said it was not immediately clear whether that led to her son’s passing. The connective tissue disease can cause thickening of skin, joint pain and damage to internal organs.
Tributes poured in during the day from friends, classmates and others who knew Trotter. Some messages paid homage to his medical battle, which at one point had left him wheelchair bound and caused him to delay enrolling at NC A&T.
Trotter was originally from Virginia, but his family moved to Charlotte two years ago.
Desiree Trotter said her son was good in math and science, and his fifth grade teacher once said Jawuan would be a successful engineer one day. He renewed his interest in engineering as a high school freshman, and set his eyes on N.C. A&T while researching colleges with strong engineering programs.
Desiree Trotter said her son also had considered attending UNC Charlotte, but only had enough money to pay for one application fee. He went with his heart and applied for N.C. A&T. A college official soon called him to welcome him to the university.
Trotter was originally set to enroll in fall 2010, but his mother said he was not yet medically strong enough. Trotter attended a summer orientation program the next year, with the university allowing his brother to be at his side. He finally began taking classes this January, and wanted to pursue computer science.
Trotter briefly became sick during his first semester, which caused him to get behind in his classes. But he caught on his work and made A&T’s dean’s list with a 3.0 grade point average last spring, his mother said.
Desiree Trotter also praised advisers and faculty at A&T who she provided a note-taker and other resources to help her son succeed. “He pushed past the pain on a daily basis,” she said.
After spending the summer in Virginia with family and friends, Jawuan Trotter returned to N.C. A&T last weekend to start the second semester of his freshman year. On Saturday, his mother says he shared a new goal.
“He just told me (last) Saturday that he was going to develop this software that was going to change the world,” Desiree Trotter said. “And I said, you know what, I believe him.”
Researcher Brooke Cain contributed.