Nursing junior Arya Singh died Feb. 8 after being taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, University Communications confirmed.
“According to the Singh family, Arya was such a light in so many lives, and will be deeply missed,” read an email circulated through the School of Nursing and Wharton School listservs. Circumstances of the death have not been released.
Singh, from Allentown, Pa., was a resident of Rodin College House and had been a member of PennHype, a hip-hop fusion dance troupe. Her death has left her friends and peers in shock.
“Arya was my better half, my partner in crime, my sister and soulmate,” Singh’s sister and School of Nursing doctoral student Shweta Singh said in an email. “For her brief time here on earth, she touched the soul of every person she met. She was my baby sister, but she was truly a friend to the world, giving a shoulder or a hearty laugh to whoever needed one.”
Wharton junior Nikita Anand said she was “honored to be [Singh’s] best friend.” She called Singh her “better half” and recalled that they constantly finished each others’ sentences.
“She was just such a light in my life,” Anand said. She added that Singh had a unique ability to connect to others and remember little details about others’ lives.
“She just found other people and other people’s feelings so meaningful,” Anand said. “What was meaningful to them was meaningful to her.”
Anand remembered that when the two girls booked GSRs, Singh was “too kind” to ask the people who had booked it before them to leave.
“Every single time we had a GSR study date, every time, she’d just cower behind me,” Anand said. “She was so kind and gentle.”
Wharton junior Tiffany D’Cunha remembers when she and Singh went out to lunch during their sophomore year and realized how similar they were. One of their shared interests was Game of Thrones.
“We became inseparable,” said D’Cunha, who calls Singh her best friend at Penn.
“I was abroad last semester, but we Skyped every single day … She was a constant source of happiness and laughter in my life,” she said.
College junior and PennHype President Brian Hsia met Singh his freshman year and said she was “incredibly caring.”
“She had the brightest smile you’ll ever see,” he said. “She was more than happy to cheer you up if you ever had any problems.”
Wharton and College junior Alice Liu, who lived in Singh’s hall freshman year, remembers her as caring, selfless and “always there for a good conversation.”
“When I was going through a rough patch sophomore year, I went over to Arya’s apartment, and she comforted me and made me feel okay,” Liu said. “That’s very representative of the kind of person she was.”
Wharton junior Nanette Nunu, who auditioned for PennHype with Singh their freshman years, was one of Singh’s closest friends at Penn. “She had an inextinguishable light within her and whenever she saw you, no matter what you were thinking the moment before, she would just consume you with her happiness and joy the moment she started speaking,” Nunu said in a text message.
“The world is a little dimmer with her passing, but her light still shines through [in] the memories we have of her,” she added.
Nursing junior and PennHype Vice President Kiara Davis said Singh was among her first friends at Penn. “Her nursing instincts were on point: from the band aids and hand sanitizer she carried, to her offers to take care of me last year when I was sick,” Davis said in an email. She added that Singh’s spirit was “impossible not to love.”
Haverford College junior Alex Ferrara met Singh when she transferred into their high school, the Lawrenceville School, as a sophomore. “She automatically found our way into our hearts with her warm laughter and constant smile,” she said in a Facebook message. “Less than a month after she joined us … students from our dorm were at her house celebrating her birthday as if we had been friends forever.”
University of California, Los Angeles junior Hisham Nazer also met Singh their sophomore year in high school. The first thing he noticed about Singh was “how infectious her smile was.”
“I have never known someone to be so happy and full of energy as Arya was,” he said in a Facebook message. “She was such a great person to be around. I remember just seeing her would instantly make my day.”
Singh’s friends say she had a huge presence on campus. “Whenever she met someone, she would friend them on Facebook and somehow become best friends with them,” D’Cunha said. “I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like her.”
“She had more friends at Penn than anyone else I knew,” she added.
“She just had this interpersonal quality about her that instantly connected her to everyone in such a pure way that she touched so many lives on campus,” Anand said.
Friends and family are working with the University to organize a candlelight vigil in Singh’s honor.
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