By Olivia Yepez
Drew University plans a virtual “Circle of Hope” service today, Feb. 3, 2021, for Ajay Sah, the Nepalese student reported missing nearly two weeks ago.
“We know that it’s important to bring the community together,” said Laura Arthur, director of international students, who will lead the Zoom ceremony with Chaplain Tanya Linn Bennett.
Wednesday’s service is meant to inspire hope, and to encourage community members to come forward with information to aide in the search, said Arthur, who interacted regularly with Sah in her official role.
The 6 pm virtual event will be limited to the Drew community, with a few invitations to important figures in Sah’s life. The school also is offering daily drop-in counseling sessions for students, to help them process the situation and support each other.
Sah, 22, was reported missing on Jan. 22, 2021 at 3:38 p.m. by students and friends who had not heard from or seen him since Jan. 19, when he left campus around 8 p.m. to board an NJ Transit train to Penn Station in New York City.
Visiting the city was not atypical for Sah, who often went with friends for shopping trips and food, said Frank Merckx, Drew’s vice president of enrollment and student engagement. He said Sah was familiar with the area and knew what he was doing.
“It’s been personally very hard,” said Merckx, remembering Sah’s infectious smile and friendly personality from the student’s visits to his office. Sah would stop by two or three times a week just to say hi, Merckx recounted.
A math major with a physics minor, Sah has worked many jobs at Drew because off-campus employment is not an option for international students, according to Merckx.
As a resident assistant in a dorm, Sah focused on ensuring students living there were enjoying their experience at the Madison liberal arts school, the administrator said.
“All of his faculty say he was excited for the semester,” said Merckx. “Everyone was excited to have him in class.”
Drew is working with Madison police, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and the FBI to find Sah.
In an email to the Drew community, authorities asked anyone with information to contact Madison Detective Ryan Dunn or call the department at (973) 593-3000.
Students also were encouraged to share a flyer police posted on social media.
Arthur urged people to come forward with any piece of information.
“There are so many people on campus who knew Ajay,” she said. “Some people might have information that they don’t think is relevant, but it could really help the search by helping investigators get to know him better.”
According to news reports, Sah’s brother, Shiva Sah, a recent college graduate, has come to New Jersey and is starting an online drive to help cover costs of the investigation, and to fly their parents in from Kathmandu, Nepal.