While many students stress over balancing their studies, jobs and social activities, other students have the additional challenge of overcoming great tragedy, such as the death of a loved one in the midst of their college experience.
“It was Dec. 15 (of 2016), a day after our finals,” said both Sangam Subedi, a freshman accounting major from Lalitpur, Nepal, and Shraddha Chand Thakuri, a freshman biology major from Kathmandu, Nepal, as they recalled the car crash, which not only changed their lives forever, but also took the life of their friend Aslesha Pandit, a freshman computer science major from Kathmandu, Nepal.
They were on their way to Panama City Beach, Florida, to celebrate the end of the semester, when their car ran a red light and hit the front of a box truck.
“We were almost there when I apparently was not able to stop at a red light and had hit a truck ahead,” said Subedi as he tried to recall the accident. “I still cannot figure out how it all happened.”
Thakuri said the accident left them so injured that everybody they knew assumed they would not be able to attend school any time soon. However, they decided on continuing with their classes, regardless of the tragedy.
“We had to undergo many major reconstructive surgeries; we also had to go for rehabilitation for months,” she said. “Everyone asked us to take a semester break and go home (to Nepal), but we decided to continue our classes and not waste time.”
A close friend of theirs, Rojan Maharjan, a freshman computer science major from Kathmandu, Nepal, said that the decision to continue their studies shocked him.
“After their accident, no one would have ever expected them to go to class the following semester. They didn’t let their injuries get the best of them, and continued their studies, “said Maharjan.
Defending their choice to not take a break from their studies, Thakuri mentioned her younger sister’s, Shrinkhala Chand Thakuri, courage and continuous support.
“My sister is just 10 years old, and she was so strong throughout the journey. She would ask my parents to stay back as long as they needed to and not worry about her,” she said. “She made me wonder—if someone as young as her could be so strong for me, how could I not overcome this tragedy?”
Another group of students were involved in another accident that happened on Feb. 21, 2016, which took the life of a Troy student, changed the life of the student’s girlfriend, Jane Doe, a graduate student who wished to remain anonymous.
She mentioned how his death not only brought sorrow, but also many responsibilities on her.
“His (the deceased Troy student’s) death was very hard for me,” Doe said. “To be frank, I did not have enough time to cry about my loss because I had so many things going on in my mind like parents, his parents and my studies.”
Unlike Subedi and Thakuri who decided to continue with their studies regardless of the tragedy, Doe had to choose her responsibilities before her studies.
“I had to drop my semester, and I also had to waste my semester to go home,” she said. “I could not choose my studies before my responsibilities.”
One of her close friends, Anoosha Arja, a graduate computer science major from Vijayawada, India, said she was shocked at how strong Doe was during the tragedy and how she handled the situation.
“She accompanied his body to India. She chose to be with their families without thinking of her education,” said Arja.
While most people helped her throughout the tragedy, some relatives were not as helpful in the situation.
“There were few relatives who tried to pull me down when I was already broken,” she said. “They suggested I stay back in India, as I was my parents’ only child.”
However, she managed to overcome their judgments and decided to come back to Troy to finish her studies.
“I have gone through a lot, but on a positive note, it made me much stronger,” she said.