Following the passing of beloved student, friend and avid follower of Christ, Jollyfisher Ekpe, students on campus shared their favorite stories or memories during his time at Azusa Pacific.

As students were welcomed back to campus this January, their hearts hung low with feelings of confusion, despair, and grief following the passing of their fellow student, Jollyfisher Ekpe. Ekpe was fully immersed into the community here at Azusa Pacific as a senior in the BFA Acting Program, a member of the Spiritual Life Chapel Band and more. 

In an attempt to honor his time here at APU, we reached out to students to share their favorite memories or stories of Jolly and how he etched a mark on their lives forever. Here are a few of the responses we received:


Dylan Tam

I remember a time when I was able to worship alongside him during a worship bonfire night and also being able to play with him as I was on the guitar and he was on the keyboard. I was so impacted by how welcoming and friendly he was towards me as I am a freshman. Afterwards, I just clearly remember being able to just get to know him through conversations and I was just amazed to see the heart he had for this community and making it easy for us freshmen to be incorporated within it. I was lucky enough to be able to continue to have conversations with him when we would see each other throughout campus and just be able to catch up with each other. I will miss seeing Jolly around campus and your legacy will live on forever.

Ellie Olsen

One of my favorite stories about Jolly was the night before I had a big paper due for honors. I was on my way to the library when I ran into him in front of Engstrom. That was also the day the cast lists had come out for last fall and Jolly told me that he was excited, but initially a little bit bummed. He decided to walk me to the library and we talked through the different frustrations we were feeling at the time, but by the end of our conversation, he was super grounding. He told me that he still loves what he does so much, and the reason he has these feelings is because of how much he cares about making art. It was so reassuring for me, as I felt so similarly about my honors paper, but wouldn’t have thought about it like that without his wisdom. I had a lot of conversations like this with Jolly, but this one was my favorite.

Jeffrey Benedict

When I first came to APU as a freshman I was pretty nervous. I had no idea what to expect, where to go, or who to talk to. Along comes Jolly who explained that he was gonna be my RA for the year. Throughout my freshman year, Jolly was nothing but super kind and helpful to me. Every time I passed by the front desk at Engstrom he would smile, call out my name, shake my hand or give me a hug and we would talk for a little. Seeing Jolly always made my day no matter what happened. When I found out he played piano I asked him if he could give me some tips and we spent some time together in the music building. He was insanely talented and showed those skills every time I saw him in chapel. After freshman year I still saw him around campus and we would talk now and then. The last time I had a solid conversation with him was in October. He scheduled a time for us to catch up. After seeing how involved and busy he was on campus I can’t believe he took time out of his day just to speak to me. It just shows how much he valued everyone he knew and why so many people loved him. That day after hanging out he was about to leave and I thought to myself “I don’t even have one picture with Jolly.” So I told him we should take one. The only problem is, Jolly took the picture on his phone and he never sent it to me. I just wish I remembered to ask him for it before winter break started. I was never the closest to Jolly but I wish I had more time to spend getting closer to him. Rest in peace Jolly I will see you in Heaven someday ❤️‍🩹

Robert Lo

When I transferred into the acting department, I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know how to talk to people. Jolly was one of the first to welcome me in and talk to me. He made it less awkward for me and easy for me to integrate to the acting community. I was in awe of his talent and ability on stage. Whenever I was in class or a show with him, just watching the way he took the material and ran with it, he was so creative and inspiring. He was an incredible friend and actor and I will miss him dearly. Thanks for all your kindness and help Jolly. It really means a lot.

Barbara Wells

Jolly had so many gifts but one that impacted me was his Words of Affirmation.  Not only did I witness it as he was very involved with other students in the hallways but one day, he called my name as I was entering the Theater Arts Office (as I am frequently stopped for a need). Instead of telling me what he needed, Jolly thanked me very eloquently for all that I did.  He thanked me for my efforts and what it meant to him and to the other students and it continued many times. God knows our individual love languages and God used Jolly to remind me that He is active in a willing heart.

Lauren Biggs

I met Jolly during a worship night at the prayer chapel in 2022. We talked about things I can’t even remember now but I began to understand then why he was so respected on campus. Jolly was a radiant follower of Christ and exemplified Christ’s love in how he treated other people, even people he didn’t know well (like me). He was the prime example that a life well lived doesn’t always mean a long one.

Clifford Setiabudi

It began in an unlikely way, but I guess that’s how God works in our lives. I met him as my RA and suitemate during my freshman year in Engstrom first, and I still remember the first day I met him on the day I moved in. He is unlike anyone I had met before. His presence always brings joy and affirmation regardless of where I’m around him, whether meeting him around the campus, or even just listening to him practicing music from behind the wall. We bump into each other all the time, and very quickly we became friends. Countless valuable interactions throughout that time. Yet things went even further the following semester. Chapel Band. God placed us together in the same chapel band, the Global Band; and though we didn’t see each other as often anymore last semester, our friendship thrived even further because of this. From the late-night practices to the chapel itself, and to the dreaded post-chapel cleaning-up, Jolly had always lifted us all in joy, passion, and strength. As a leader and an MD, he had always set examples for us in love and humility. All of those smiles, laughs, tears and calmness have impacted our band in a way that’ll never be repeated. Thank you Jolly. Thank you for being my RA, neighbor, worship leader, friend and above all else, a brother. I miss you. 


Jolly always said hello and asked how I was doing as we passed one another on campus. In a time when so many students walk around with headphones on or with their heads in their phone, Jolly’s intentionality meant so much to me. He exemplified to me and all who knew him what community-building means. His joyful spirit continues to inspire me to live well each day I get here on Earth. I miss his smile most of all but I know He gets to smile with God now.


Share Your Story

We hope these stories of students have brought you immense peace and joy in remembrance of Jolly. We also extend the opportunity for you to submit your own story, memory, or thoughts about him. You may use this link to share your response and we will diligently update this article with more tributes to Jolly.

You may also read about Jolly’s story here at APU which was captured in this article entitled, “Striving to Bring Glory to God.” We encourage you to continue to lean on one another as you navigate through these feelings and welcome you to reflect upon his impact on this campus which will never be forgotten.