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Wharton freshman Thomas Tercilla, known as Tommy to his friends and family, died on Sunday in Miami. Wharton Undergraduate Division Vice Dean Lori Rosenkopf sent an email to Wharton undergraduates on Monday afternoon, notifying them of the tragedy.

Tercilla’s family said in an email that he had a brain aneurysm while home in Miami for the holiday break. He lived in Ware College House and was a member of the Dollar cohort in Wharton.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website, a brain aneurysm is a “thin spot on a blood vessel in the brain that balloons out and fills with blood.” They can happen to anyone, but risk factors include high blood pressure, family history, drug and alcohol abuse and smoking. Aneurysms may go undetected until they burst, which can cause stroke, nerve damage or death.

Tercilla’s father, Orlando, described the 19 year old as a smart and charming young man who regularly went out of his way to help those around him.

While his father said he was devastated, he was not bitter about his son’s passing. “I wouldn’t trade our 19 years with him for 40 with another kid,” he said. Tercilla’s friends from Penn and other schools had flown down to Miami to stay with him over the weekend, including his roommate from Penn. They were there while Tercilla suffered the aneurysm.

After a rise in violence in Miami seven years ago, Tercilla’s father said he encouraged his son to take up karate, “just in case.” Tercilla agreed, on the condition that his father take the classes with him. At Tercilla’s black belt ceremony several years later, he told the crowd that he was grateful for the chance he had to bond with his father, Orlando Tercilla remembered. “He was my best friend, my idol, my everything,” Tercilla’s dad said.

Tercilla’s father said he was both happy and proud in his short time at Penn, adding that the school made a good decision in accepting him.

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Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the name of Tercilla’s father as Oscar. His name is actually Orlando. The DP regrets the error.

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