“Deslyn was the kind of person who could light up even the darkest room,” junior Georgia Puckett said. “Her radiant energy was infectious. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as bright or bubbly.”
Deslyn was a senior pre-med Biology major at Seaver College born to parents Olive and Desmond Williams in Atlanta, Georgia.
Deslyn’s radiant personality was legendary on the Pepperdine campus. She had a way of making everyone she met feel special, Puckett said.
“She made the impossible possible,” junior Hannah Allen said. “She thought of the most extravagant outrageous things.”
Deslyn lived life to the fullest, senior Samantha Firsht said.
“I know that sounds really cliche, but truly everything that Deslyn wanted in her life, she went for,” Firsht said.
Deslyn was passionate and hardworking, senior Dylan Stormoen said.
“She was everyone’s hype woman in everything that they did. Whether it be taking photos for you or talking to you before a test, she never failed to hype you up, get you excited and make you feel confident,” Stormoen said.
Throughout high school and college, Deslyn maintained an outstanding academic career and was on the Dean’s and honors lists in her schools, Desmond Williams, Deslyn’s father, said during the Oct. 22 Pepperdine Memorial Service.
“She’s very loving and caring and fiercely, fiercely loyal to her family and friends,” Williams said. “If you want to pick a fight, you can do anything to her, and she will forgive you, but if you do something to family and friends, you’re in trouble.”
Deslyn was a glass-half-full person, junior Molly Skorobohaty said.
“She [Deslyn] looked at the world in perfect view, knowing that everyone deserves a second chance and that something good would happen to anyone who needed it,” Skorobohaty said.
Inclusivity and Kindness
Deslyn treated everyone with love and respect, whether she knew them for years or had just met them, Puckett said.
“Deslyn had this amazing ability to make anyone feel special,” Puckett said.
Many close to her acknowledged Deslyn’s “big” heart.
“She’s extremely giving and puts everybody else before herself,” sophomore Jamie Pak said.
The most significant trait that Deslyn carried was her generous soul, Skorobohaty said.
“Deslyn was so kind not because she had to be but because that was actually her,” Skorobohaty said. “She was a kind, selfless, caring human being. Her heart was full of good.”
Deslyn knew how to comfort her friends in just the way they needed from a pencil to a dress to wear for formal, Skorobohaty said.
“She was there for me like no other person, and she would never judge me,” Allen said. “If you needed a shirt, Deslyn would have taken her shirt off and given it to you.”
One time, when Pak was sick, Deslyn went to Pak’s dorm with a cup of chicken noodle soup from Whole Foods, Pak said.
“She did not have to do it at all but went out of her way to bring it to me,” Pak said.
The stigma around only children is that they could not share, but Deslyn was the exception, Skorobohaty said.
“Anything she owned, she was willing to share with others,”Skorobohaty said. “Her closet was our closet, her snacks were our snacks, and her home was our home. She welcomed people with open arms.”
Deslyn’s father Desmond Williams once shared a story with Skorobohaty, about Deslyn’s kindness, she said.
When Deslyn was younger, her father bought her a big bag of lollipops, and she was so excited to bring them to school and hand them out to everyone, Skorobohaty said.
Deslyn went to school that day and handed out all the lollipops, and then she came home that day sad because she forgot to grab one herself, Skorobohaty said.
Deslyn’s father went and bought another pack of lollipops for her and said to Deslyn, “This time, slip one in your pocket before you hand them out,” Skorobohaty said.
Deslyn went into a class that next day and slipped one in her pocket before handing out all of the lollipops once again.
Deslyn was full of good and wanted to share it with the world, Skorobohaty said.
“She was pure light,” Allen said. “Deslyn was a light for sure in my life.”
The Power of Her Smile and Laughter
One of Deslyn’s and Puckett’s last shared memories was Puckett’s 21st birthday. Deslyn insisted on making it special, Puckett said. She said Deslyn planned a party at Deslyn’s house, involving shopping for cake, a balloon arch and flowers.
“Seeing her smile at my 21st birthday party — it was a moment I’ll treasure forever,” Puckett said. “She knew how to bring joy to every occasion, and that smile of hers was the heart of the party.”
Deslyn’s laughter was always present, even in difficult times; it served as a testament to her resilience and strength, Anežka Lišková, junior and previous assistant news editor for the Graphic, said.
What makes Lišková and Deslyn’s friendship unique is the ease with which they connected. Lišková said Deslyn had a magnetic personality and said she was a “positive, smiley person” who radiated warmth.
Deslyn possessed the remarkable quality of caring more for others than for herself, and her friends cherished her for it, Lišková said.
“Deslyn was always super bubbly — so happy to be anywhere and talking to anyone,” Malibu Farm Pier Cafe former co-worker Tasha Conger said. “She had the craziest laugh, and I wish I could remember or replicate it because it’s just so funny and unique.”
Deslyn was a ray of positivity, and her infectious laugh could be heard from miles away, Puckett said.
“No matter her mood, you never caught Deslyn in a bad mood,” Puckett said.
Deslyn and her many close friends share some special moments and life-long memories they will cherish forever.
“The first time I met Deslyn, she picked me up right outside my freshman dorm in her little Honda with the Georgia state license plate,” Puckett said. “Deslyn was wearing a cheetah tank top and had a contagious energy about her that immediately put me at ease.”
Their shared love for Rottweilers was the first thing they bonded over, Puckett said.
“We shared a passion for animals, especially horses,” Puckett said. “She always wanted to be a vet, and spending time on a horseback ride with her in the canyon was one of the most special moments of our friendship.”
Deslyn opened up her home and organized an incredible birthday party for Puckett. It was unforgettable, Puckett said.
“Deslyn just knew how to plan the best parties,” Puckett said. “She knew how to make everyone feel loved and appreciated.”
Deslyn and Puckett’s friendship deepened throughout their college years. Puckett’s memories of Deslyn included adventurous nights, when Deslyn once rode a mechanical bull, leaving a scar on her knee as a token of her fearless spirit.
“There was never a dull moment with her,” Puckett said.
Deslyn’s enthusiasm and attention to detail when planning special moments for her friends will forever be remembered, Puckett said.
“She was so iconic,” Ortman said. “Deslyn always had the best clothes, and she’d be pretty nonchalant about it, but we’re like, ‘You literally look so chic and so cool.'”
Deslyn loved to have fun, Puckett said, whether it was dressing up for themed events, playing tennis or enjoying the best of what Pepperdine had to offer.
“Those moments [getting ready] were always special because she made them special,” Puckett said.
Deslyn always knew how to make her friends laugh, Firsht said.
Deslyn had an obsession with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Gooey Butter cake, Cogner said.
“I’ll never forget the first time I had it,” Conger said.
Deslyn went to Malibu Farm Pier Cafe about three weeks ago to visit her former co-workers.
“She [Deslyn] spoke to me as if no time had passed,” former co-worker at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, Jeyde Mitchell said. “I just felt like we picked up where we left off.”
Deslyn was just as funny, just as nice, and that made Mitchell feel at ease and happy to know that they still had that type of friendship.
Firsht and Deslyn were in an English class together during their first year at Pepperdine.
“Deslyn basically reached out to me through the DM on Instagram and she said, ‘Hey girl, like, I’m in your English 101 class. Classes are always so much easier with friends,’” Firsht said. “And then, she just wanted to reach out and say ‘hi. ’”
During COVID-19, some students, including Firsht and Deslyn, decided to move out to Malibu to be close to Pepperdine and meet other students.
“We looked at apartments and signed a lease almost immediately,” Firsht said. “We lived together for two years.”
Dedication to Alpha Phi Sorority
Deslyn’s passion and dedication to her role as vice president of member recruitment for Alpha Phi Sorority were unparalleled, Puckett said.
Puckett and Deslyn collaborated on themes, outfits and every minute detail, transforming recruitment nights into unforgettable experiences.
“Deslyn loved our sorority, Aphi,” Allen said. “Some of her ideas were just so creative.”
When Stormeon took on the role of vice president of member recruitment for Alpha Phi after Deslyn, she said she wanted to do it just like her.
“Deslyn was definitely my inspiration for the way that she cared and how passionate she was about Alpha Phi,” Stormeon said.
Eternal Connection and Continuing Her Legacy
Puckett has been visiting locations that Deslyn loved, such as Layla Bagels, she said.
“It’s a way for me to keep her memory alive,” Puckett said. “She was such a foodie, and I know she’d want us to savor all the good things in life just like she did.”
Saying ‘I love you’ and giving heartfelt hugs is how Lišková said she will keep the memory of Deslyn alive because these small acts of love and kindness reflect the essence of Deslyn’s spirit.
Pak said she wants to take extra initiative to do things in nature now because Deslyn loved to be outside.
“She loved going on hikes, camping on the beach but just being outside in general,” Pak said.
Deslyn and Allen talked about their future all the time, Allen said.
“We would joke that we were a married couple — that she’s the wife, and I’m the husband,” Allen said. “If I have a daughter, I want to name her or have her middle name be Deslyn.”
Allen promises to keep the memory of Deslyn alive and stay connected with the Williams family, she said.
“Deslyn was so loud and bright, and she’s one of those people that, whenever she walked into a room, you knew she made her presence known,” Stormeon said. “I feel like just making sure that that light does not die on our campus in any way at all is so important.”
Deslyn’s influence will forever shape so many lives, Puckett said.
“I can’t physically see her, but I know she’s with me,” Puckett said. “Her love and the beauty she brought into the world continue to guide me. I wish I could have created more memories with her.”
Deslyn’s impact reverberates around each place she touched.
“I hope she saw the impact she had on so many people,” Firsht said. “Deslyn really touched the lives of so many people and had such an impact.”
Deslyn Williams, though no longer with us, remains the heart that forever beats within the world of those who loved her deeply.
“She is the center of our world and continues to be the center of our world,” Desmond Williams said.
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