At Duke Chapel’s worship service on Sunday, a silent procession of roses will honor two students who died last weekend.
Alexander Rickabaugh, a sophomore engineering major from Winston-Salem, and Kaila Brown, a Ph.D. student in English from Apple Valley, Calif., were found dead in separate cases last weekend.
“These were unrelated incidents, and neither death was due to foul play, but no further details have yet been released by the medical examiners,” Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, wrote in a campuswide email.
Duke arranged for buses to take mourners to Winston-Salem for Rickabaugh’s funeral on Friday and a memorial service on Saturday. Details of a service for Brown had not been set.
“These losses are heartbreaking to family, friends and the entire Duke community,” Moneta’s email said. “We will do all we can to offer support and comfort to all. I urge each of you to take advantage of all opportunities for care should you or anyone you know be in distress.”
Duke offered counseling and directed students to a website and phone number for Duke Reach, a service that provides 24-hour support to students in crisis. The website features a video with tips for recognizing the signs of physical and mental distress.
“This is a time to care for one another and to care for ourselves,” Moneta wrote.
The Duke Chronicle, the student newspaper, printed memorials about the two students who died on the same day.
Brown was remembered as a dedicated scholar, caring friend and a “pure, honest soul,” in the words of one administrator, according to the Chronicle.
Rickabaugh was seen as quiet yet bold, goofy yet serious at a campus gathering attended by 100 people, the paper said.
The newspaper’s editorial tried to make sense of the loss: “As Duke students, we are all full of hope, promise and ambition. We pass through our days in a haze of caffeine, our heads buzzing with the anticipation of our next challenge, and surrounded by equally gifted students and professors. In the midst of so much talent, it is easy – no, preferable – to forget that quiet tragedy still indiscriminately lurks, hidden.”