John Bernagene ’19 in Memoriam

Dear Members and Friends of the Jackie Robinson Foundation Community,
With very heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of JRF Scholar alumnus John Bernagene, Class of 2019. John passed away on September 15, 2019, just a few months after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. This is a devastating loss for all of us who knew John and appreciated the tremendous promise his talent and achievements forecast.

John grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and was an extraordinarily gifted young man who took full advantage of opportunities available to him as a JRF Scholar and student at Penn. John had a stellar academic record, graduating from Penn’s undergraduate Wharton program in 2019, magna cum laude, with a 3.7 grade point average. He was disciplined and passionate about his studies in economics and finance and throughout his college career enjoyed frequent stints on the Wharton undergraduate Dean’s List.

While a student, he secured competitive internships in private equity and investment banking with Goldman Sachs, PPC Enterprises, and Wendel North America. As a member of the Black Wharton Undergraduate Association, he worked to ensure that students of color at Wharton felt valued and supported. John was also an active member of the Wharton Hedge Fund Club.

A 2014 graduate of Midwood High School in Brooklyn, New York, John served as senior vice president of the student government association and co-president of the school’s diversity club. He was a talented athlete and competed as a member of Midwood’s varsity basketball team and also played AAU basketball with the renowned New York Rens and Brooklyn Ballers.

JRF sponsors Perry and Donna Golkin spoke of John as “serious, self-aware and very bright.…..[He was] a supremely talented young man and we will always be happy that he passed into our lives, albeit briefly. He was beloved not only by our family, but also by co-workers at PPC, who enjoyed his visit there in June.”

John was just 23 years old and beginning to truly experience the world around him, as he planned to assume a new position with a large, international bank in New York City. We deeply regret that his life ended much too soon.

If anyone in our community would like to share their thoughts about John or has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Damian Travier at or via telephone at 212.290.8600; extension 4207.

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