REFLECTIONS ON THE RECENT SOUTH ASIAN AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENT TRAGEDIES

REFLECTIONS ON THE RECENT SOUTH ASIAN AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENT TRAGEDIES

In the past few months, 10 reported South Asian college students from seven different university campuses died from tragedies ranging from traffic accidents to alleged murders (Harvard, USF, Virginia Tech, SIU-Carbondale, NYIT, Rice, and UT-Dallas).

My deepest condolences go out to all of the families, friends, and colleagues of these students. Please read links below for more information on each of these South Asian college students.

Samantha Shrestha (21) Virginia Tech Murdered
Jobin Kuriakose (21)
Ankeet Patel (22)
Imtiyaz Ilias (20)
Dammie Yesudhas (21)
University of Southern Florida Died in Car Accident
Angela Mathew (20) Harvard University Died in Car Accident
Pravin Varughese (19) Southern Illinois University Found Dead
Reny Jose (21) Rice University Missing
Jasmine Joseph (22) New York Institute of Technology Found dead
Stanly Kumbanattel (31) University of Texas at Dallas Carjacked and murdered
Photo Courtesy of ABC News

Photo Courtesy of ABC News

Just one of these stories is sad, but so many tragedies in such a short period of time is overwhelming. I’m not a very emotional person, but these stories impacted me deeply. Each of these students remind me of countless other South Asian American students that I know. Their looks, their stories, their circumstances — it hits close to home. 

I’ve spent the past few weeks answering Facebook messages, emails, and texts from students and recent graduates about these horrible circumstances. Most students want to know why God would allow this to happen. Others are coping with guilt for not reaching out when they had the chance. Still others are wrestling with their own finiteness.

Since South Asian students are closely networked together, the heartbreak and questions are felt across the nation.

It’s a tragedy.

I’ve found myself sitting, letting my mind wander and getting deeply overwhelmed by the loss of life. Young. Bright. Energetic. Creative. Influential. South Asian. Lives. Gone. These are people from my South Asian community. Gone? Such loss… Each student carried amazing potential. 

Death is a painful reality. I don’t like thinking about death. I am terrible at funerals. My eyes well up with tears even if I don’t know the deceased or the grieving family very well. Death is hard to grasp.

I have to face my limited time on earth. We all do.

Over the past few months, I’ve felt an undeniable, growing sense of urgency and passion to continue to reach more South Asian American college students. These students need to be loved, affirmed, developed, and sent out to make a difference.

Although many of us are grief-stricken, we cannot not remain hopeless. Though we are discouraged, we must choose to push forward. There are more students that can be reached with hope, love, and faith. You and I can never give up.

  • Life is short, so use it to make a positive impact.

  • Death is inevitable, but it is not final.

  • Grief takes time to heal, but grieve with hope.

  • Hope is important, and it never disappoints.

Let us continue to reach South Asian college students, because each life is precious. Each life counts. We remember those that have passed. I believe they will continue to live on in each of our hearts!

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