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Moving Tributes Mark Tragic Loss


At Commencement, Ravi Thackurdeen's sister Savita displayed his portrait. Photo by Laurence Kesterson

Connecting to a tragic event that occurred late in the spring semester, Chairman of the Board Gil Kemp ’72 invoked a moment of silence during Commencement, May 27, to honor Ravi Thackurdeen ’14, whose dynamic life ended while studying abroad in Costa Rica. Ravi had been reported missing on April 29 after being pulled out to sea while swimming. Ravi’s brother, Sean ’12, sister Savita, and parents Raj and Roshni Thackurdeen of Newburgh, N.Y., were in the Commencement audience.

On May 1, about 200 students and Swarthmore community members gathered for a candlelight vigil in memory of the sophomore whose body had been recovered earlier that day. He had been studying with the Organization for Tropical Studies/Duke University’s Global Health program.

Ravi was a popular and well-connected student, as testimonies during the candlelight vigil made clear. Several of his friends spoke spontaneously about the young man they described as “an awesome friend,” and “amazing, kind, smart, inspired, caring and inspirational for all who knew him.” One student commented, “The sparkle in his eye was quite distinctive.” Aurora Camacho de Schmidt, associate professor of Spanish, read a poem she’d written about Ravi.

As Chopp noted at the vigil, “Ravi was keenly interested in public health, preventative medicine, and ethnomedicine and devoted much of his considerable energy to activities that furthered those interests.” He served on the Swarthmore Fire and Protective Association ambulance squad, tutored elementary and middle school students from Chester, Pa., and was a 2012 Richard Rubin Scholar, who planned to major in chemistry.

Memorial gifts in honor of Ravi Thackurdeen are being accepted for a need
yet to be determined.

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