Isaak Kornelsen passed away on August 27th 2012 in a tragic collision while biking to work. He was 21 years old. The following bios are accounts of Isaak’s admirable qualities from two friends who knew him personally. His professional accomplishments include: being a part of the Golden Bears Track team since 2009, a nomination for the Athletics Alberta Junior Athlete of the Year,  a bronze medal with the Golden Bears 4 x 800m relay team in the Canada West championship (2010), and 6th place in the 600 meter race


Isaak Kornelsen can be described by a vast list of traits: he was kind, humble, intelligent, polite, wise, eager, charming, witty, and honest. But his personality goes far beyond this. He was self-aware. He was courageous. He was adaptable. He was motivated to search, and challenged you to do the same.

There were many subtleties to Isaak that initially go unnoticed, but upon reflection are so vast and profound. You might never know the genius lying within Isaak, even while having a one-on-one conversation with him. He may have revealed a small unassuming glimmer of his mind, but he never sought to impress others. He was genuinely curious about every person he met.

He lived to treat all people with respect, dignity and love. He was invested in every interaction he made, and brought to light the beauty in the smallest, ordinary things. I think many people were struck by the fact that Isaak could see every day out with such clarity. He lived completely in the present; able to appreciate any circumstance that  passed his way. When you see someone living this way, it’s incredibly contagious, and I think this makes him such an influential student and friend. He was capable of making anyone reflect upon his or her life and circumstances, and continues to do so past departure. Being able to remove ourselves from habitual routine and appreciate the people surrounding us is much more difficult to accomplish than worrying about our futures or complaining about given circumstances. We can all learn from Isaak by appreciating the whirlwind of experiences handed to us every day.


Isaak was fascinated by people, he would meet new people and make lasting connections with them on a daily basis. His sincerity was obvious and it opened people up. He truly wanted to know people, learn about them and cared enough to listen and challenge their ideas. He was definitely a challenge, pushing for explanations and driving people to think about the important things. He cared enough to ask why and wanted to understand you more fully. It seemed like he had life figured out. He understood the complex facets of life and appreciated the simplicity of others, offering a view of the world often overlooked: the buds on trees, the color of a door, unnoticed angles.

He was outrageously talented and gifted. The valedictorian, the musician, the artist, yet the most modest person I’ve ever known. Everyone he came across was on the same level, never condescending, he made you feel at ease and he could communicate as and equal with everyone. This is probably why he had so many diverse groups of friends and touched so man people’s lives in his short life. Certainly if you had the chance to meet him you’d immediately realize that he is a rare, eternally genuine person. You might call him an old soul or wise for his age, but Isaak is more of a timeless entity.

His passion for certain aspects in life was infectious. He wanted to try everything, go everywhere, meet everyone and taste everything! This boy had a courageous heart. He wasn’t afraid to break free of peoples’ expectations for his life. If he realized something wasn’t for him, he wasn’t afraid to change it. Breaking free from set paths and defined molds is something not everyone has the strength to do or even the insight to recognize.

He fought for your friendship which was so flattering, he had ways of showing how much he cared for people. He really wanted to be friends with people, and know you, but he was flexible and understanding when you needed space. He was a support system, a best friend, a sibling.

A beautiful blond boy with an incredible heart.