We come back to campus this week heavy-hearted, mourning the loss of our fellow student, Rebecca Denardis.
On Friday we all received the sobering news, reminding us how quickly and unexpectedly a life can be taken away. Becky died in a car accident in Florida while on a canoeing trip with the Outdoor Adventures Program.
Her death is shocking and deeply saddening to us all.
She was a member of the selective living group Round Table, where she held several close friendships. She was very active in the community, and her presence was both uplifting and lively. She was supportive, loving and selfless, always placing the best interests of others over her own. Friends say she would pick them up in the middle of the night if they needed help—no questions asked. She was so kind that she never asked for anything in return.
Round Table is mourning her passing together. The group has already made a memorial on its bench and in its hallways. It is important for communities that shared and cherished Becky's presence to grieve together. Becky touched the lives of so many and so many feel her loss.
Becky exemplified Duke's mission. She excelled in academics and demonstrated a genuine desire to use her knowledge to improve the lives of others. Uncommonly bright, Becky was a math and computer science double major, a Braxton Craven Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa—the United States' oldest academic honor society.
Becky interned at Google for two summers and planned to work at the company next year. She cared deeply about promoting women in technological fields and her work was very important to her. She worked as a teaching assistant every year because she wanted to be a mentor and a leader in her field.
Her goals stretched well beyond Duke and beyond her immediate personal gain—something we can all strive for. She hoped that, after working in the tech industry, she could find a job that would directly help people. She wanted to learn everything she could so that she could serve others whenever she was able. She sought always to be supportive and kind.
It is difficult to grasp the sudden loss of someone who had such a promising future. It is particularly saddening to know that she is the victim of someone else’s reckless decision to drive drunk.
As vice president for student affairs Larry Moneta wrote in his email on Friday: “We are numbed by this terrible loss and will need each other's love and caring as we cope and grieve.”
And more than that, we should all aim to be a little more like Becky as we cope with her loss. Let us be supportive, caring and loving. Perhaps amid all this tragedy, we will feel her presence and enduring support.