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Remembering Mischa Nee

The community’s memories of Mischa Nee, a junior from Palo Alto.

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The following are posts in memory of Mischa Nee ’20. Submit your kind words honoring Mischa to The Daily to have them added to this post online. Please include your name, your relation to Mischa and your Stanford class year, if applicable, in an email submission to [email protected].

Mischa, a junior from Palo Alto, passed away while hiking in Mallorca, Spain on March 22, 2019. A memorial service in celebration of Mischa’s life will be held at Memorial Church on Thursday, April 11, from 2:30-4 p.m. For more information about services in Mischa’s honor, visit https://www.mischanee.com/funeral-service.

Mischa Nee (Mikhail Erickson Nee) of Palo Alto, California, died on March 22, 2019 in a hiking accident in Deià, Spain, on the island of Majorca. He was 20 years old.

He is survived by his parents, Tekla (Perry) Nee and Eric Nee of Palo Alto and his siblings, Nadya Nee and Alex Nee of Los Angeles.

Mischa was kind, loving and happy, with a unique gift of connection and a talent for finding and nurturing friendships with a wide variety of people. He never let himself be limited by labels or definitions.

Mischa was born in Palo Alto on August 1, 1998. Since early childhood, he embraced the circus arts, quickly excelling in juggling, unicycle, aerials and slackline. He was a proud alumnus of Camp Winnarainbow, a circus and performing arts camp in Laytonville, California. He was also an avid skimboarder, a skill nurtured during summers with extended family at the Jersey Shore.

At Palo Alto High School (Paly), where he graduated in 2016, Mischa spent much of his time in the Media Arts Center, serving as editor-in-chief of “The Campanile,” the Paly newspaper, and assisting with other publications. In 2014, he co-founded Camp MAC, a journalism program for rising eighth and ninth graders that continues to operate today. He was a member of the Paly debate team, the junior varsity lacrosse team and the varsity cross country team.

Mischa also participated in Amigos de las Américas, a service organization, and spent two months working in the Dominican Republic when he was 15. He received the President’s Volunteer Service Award/Gold, was a Gold Key winner for critical essay in the Scholastic Writing Awards and was a National Merit Finalist.

Mischa entered Stanford University in September of 2016, quickly discovering computer science as a new passion and winning the Programming Methodology Graphics Contest that year. At the same time, Mischa rediscovered the fine arts, studying art history and sketching and painting as an artist himself, an interest he had put aside after elementary school. At Stanford, he joined the jump rope team. He also participated in Stanford Dance Marathon, not only as a 24-hour marathoner but also serving as dorm captain, event coordinator and graphic designer.

Mischa studied in Madrid in 2018 and in Florence in 2019 as part of Stanford’s Bing Overseas Studies Program, becoming fluent in both Spanish and Italian.  He worked as a computer science tutor through Breakout Mentors in Palo Alto and held computer science internships at Infosys in Bangalore, India; Zeal Learning in San Francisco; and Breakout Mentors. He also worked as a graphics design intern at Opinno in Madrid.

Mischa loved to travel. He wanted to see the world and in his short lifetime indeed saw much of it, visiting nearly 30 countries beyond the United States: Aruba, Austria, the Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Spain, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Mischa went beyond casual tourism; he was proud that he had lived (by his definition, a stay of more than two months) in five countries besides the U.S.: the Dominican Republic, France, India, Italy and Spain.

All who mourn Mischa are invited to attend the visitation and funeral services. Visitation will be held at Alta Mesa Funeral Home, 695 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, on Wednesday, April 10, from 4 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held at the Alta Mesa Funeral Home at noon on Thursday, April 11, immediately followed by a celebration of Mischa’s life at 2:30 p.m. at Stanford Memorial Church, 450 Serra St., on the Stanford campus.

A memorial fund has been created in Mischa’s honor to support the mission of Camp Winnarainbow, a place that helped shape him. More information on the fund and Mischa’s life can be found at www.mischanee.com.

— Tekla Nee, mother

Mischa was a beautiful, thoughtful and unbelievably talented being. As an aerial artist, he was dynamic and demanded audience attention. As a friend, he was authentic and warm with a truly nurturing soul. I celebrate the opportunity I had to teach and learn with him. Two years ago, I had the chance to talk to him one on one at the fire circle at Camp Winnarainbow, a magical space for any member of the Winnarainbow community. We talked about his first year at Stanford, friends he had made and his desire to work in art/tech in the future. Mischa, you are so loved. I wish I could have seen you grow for many years to come. If the worldwide struggle were a jigsaw puzzle, you’d be the last one holding the very last Peace.

— Grace Geller, co-counselor at Camp Winnarainbow

I’ve been teaching at the university level for 18 years now, 12 of them at the Stanford University Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) in Madrid, and every quarter, the day before I meet my students, I feel butterflies in my stomach. The day we say goodbye, a piece of my heart leaves with them. I’m sure I share these same feelings with many educators. A few days ago, I received the news of Mischa’s passing.  This is the first time I heard the news of the death of one of my students and I feel that a little piece of my heart has died, too. Mischa was my student during the spring 2018 quarter. I remember the day we met perfectly. He was a very charming young man, full of life, and eager to try everything. He liked to put himself out there and embrace new cultures, which is ideal for an international student. He sat in my class at 9 a.m., sometimes clearly with not enough hours of sleep (because he liked to enjoy Madrid’s nightlife), but he was responsible. He was there every morning for his class, actively participated, made interesting comments and never missed a deadline. He was sharp and had a great sense of humor that he liked to share with everybody.

Nothing prepares you for this kind of news and I cannot express how deeply sorry I am for the death of Mischa. Yesterday, for the first time this quarter, I entered the room where we used to have class a year ago and I swear I saw Mischa sitting there with his huge smile. I am glad he had the opportunity to live in Spain, because I know he loved it, and I feel honored to have had the chance to meet him.

You will be remembered in Madrid, dear Mischa. Rest in peace.

— Maite Camblor Portilla, Spanish professor for BOSP’s Madrid program

From the day we met, it was clear Mischa was on a higher level than most students: he was more mature, more relaxed and more concerned about others. I will miss his quick wit, big smile and bigger heart.

— Edwin Dorsey ’20, Mischa’s freshman roommate