Alumna Suzanne Pearman remembered for her gift of words and humor


Anne Pearman

Suzanne Pearman, a 2012 cinema art + science alumna, died on Oct. 25.

By Lauren Kostiuk

Suzanne Pearman, a 2012 cinema art + science alumna, died Oct. 25 at the age of 25.

Pearman was a poet, stand-up comedian, screenwriter, social media expert, humanitarian and filmmaker most recently enrolled in DePaul University’s Master of Business Administration program, which she was expected to complete soon. Most of all, she was loved, said her mother, Anne Pearman.

“She was so light, bright and sparkly,” Anne Pearman said. “[She was] really entertaining [and] had this amazing laugh.”

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause and manner of death was pending the results of an investigation as of press time. Anne Pearman said her daughter’s death was a suicide.

“We just want to stand tall and say we loved her so much, and we would’ve done anything to keep her,” Anne Pearman said. “We don’t want to hide the way she died because we don’t want other families to suffer the difficulties we did in trying to get help for their young adult children.”

Suzanne Pearman’s work was published in various publications such as New Bile, Voicemail Poems and Spelk Fiction. Her self-published 2013 book, “98% Enemy,” was under revision and soon to be released at the time of her death.

She often read her works at venues around Chicago such as The Store, Phyllis’s Music Inn and the Elbo Room, and recently started performing stand-up comedy, according to an online memory page. She recently read some of her work at Columbia, according to Cari Callis, an associate professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department.

“She was on the cusp of having everything she wanted to have,” Callis said. “She had really changed her life in the sense she had this new boyfriend, [her] book was coming out, she was going to finish her MBA—it seemed like things were really going her way.”

During her senior year, Suzanne Pearman was enrolled in Callis’ “Ideation and Theme” class, in which students read each other’s body of work and discussed future plans. Callis said after hearing of her former student’s death, she dug up her old work and remembered her as a brilliant, insightful and humorous writer, saying she was an artist in the way she lived her life.

“She kept getting better after she graduated,” Callis said. “It was like she accelerated [and] made a conscious effort to start getting her work out there and she did.”

Kate Hagen, a 2012 Cinema Art + Science alumna, said she had been friends with Pearman since they met through Columbia’s Screenwriting Program in 2010. She said she was the most warm, optimistic and empathetic person she ever met.

“She will be deeply missed,” Hagen said. “I am really sad we will never get to see the full expression of her gifts and everything else she had to offer.”

Paul Peditto, an adjunct professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department and one of Pearman’s first screenwriting teachers, said she stood out in his class with her natural writing voice and ability to make anyone laugh with her “out-of-the-box” humor and personality.

“She was just a spark,” Peditto said. “She was different.”

Hagen said Pearman’s favorite movie was “Harold and Maude” and said the final line, “Go and love some more,” is what Suzanne would want everybody to do.

“It is not about how Suzanne died—what is really important is about how she lived,” Callis said. “She lived this authentic life.”