The independent news organization of Duke University

Burakow, Va. freshman, dies


  Alexandra "Sasha" Marie Burakow, a freshman from Fairfax Station, Va., died Dec. 17, 2003, at the age of 19. Burakow suffered a brain aneurysm Dec. 13.


  At Duke, she volunteered with schizophrenic hospital patients and with infants in a neonatal intensive care unit. She planned to become a physician specializing in treating children with brain disorders.


  "We had only begun to know this talented young woman, whose achievements in high school ranged from varsity athletics to the national semifinals of the prestigious Intel Science Competition," President Nan Keohane said in a statement. "Her death is a great loss not only for her classmates who lived with her on East Campus and who shared classes and activities, but for all of us in the Duke community. We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends on campus, in Virginia and everywhere Sasha touched people's lives. She will be deeply missed."


  Burakow graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in 2003 after achieving considerable success in a variety of areas.


  "Sasha was an outstanding and exuberant young woman who was an avid learner interested in all academic areas," TJHSST Principal Elizabeth Lodal wrote in a letter to families of students. "[She] touched so many people in the TJ community and will be deeply missed."


  Last year, Burakow was one of only 300 students nationwide chosen as a semifinalist in the Intel Science competition. She was recognized for her research on amoebas and their brain function, which she hoped could lead to advancements in the study of such degenerative brain disorders as Alzheimer's.


  She was an all-American in lacrosse and captain of the lacrosse team, captain of the field hockey team, a swimmer and winner of an outstanding achievement award from the Women's Sports Foundation. She was a member of the student government.


  She also won a silver medal in the Russian Speaking Olympiad for the Eastern Region and was a silver and gold medalist in the National Russian Essay Contest. Burakow was born in Elkhart, Ind., and moved with her family to St. Petersburg, Russia, shortly after her birth.

Burakow is survived by her parents, Nicholas and Diane, and her younger brother, Michael.


  In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, c/o the Sasha Burakow Scholarship Fund. In addition, a website,, has been created for everyone to post messages related to how they knew Sasha and how they would like her remembered.


Share and discuss “Burakow, Va. freshman, dies” on social media.