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Arielle DaCosta (COL ’11) died last week in Salamanca, Spain.

*Updated at 9:11 p.m. on Oct. 15.*

While the bells in Healy Hall’s clock tower tolled at 6 p.m. last Wednesday, about 60 members of the Georgetown community bowed their heads in silence in Dahlgren Chapel to honor the memory of Arielle DaCosta (COL ’11), [who died last week]( in Salamanca, Spain.

The memorial Mass on Wednesday evening, held hours after Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson notified campus of DaCosta’s death, celebrated a Georgetown student remembered for her love of travel, languages, writing and animals.

Friends DaCosta made during New Student Orientation, on her freshman-year floor in New South Hall, at the university’s villa in Fiesole, Italy this past summer and while studying in Salamanca remembered her ability to make others feel at ease in her presence.

“I met Arielle on my first day at Georgetown, and I still remember the way she turned to me on the bleachers at orientation to introduce herself – she had such a beautiful smile that automatically made me feel more comfortable, even though I was surrounded by sea of strangers,” Alison Bitterly (COL ’11) said. “She was incredibly unique, intelligent, engaging and fiercely loyal to the people she loved. I’m not sure she ever realized how magnetic her personality was – everyone wanted to be her friend.”

Christine White (MSB ’11) lived on the same floor in New South as DaCosta her freshman year. “Right from the start, I could see and admire her bubbly personality,” White said. “When we first met in our third-floor common room as she was baking cookies, I noticed how kind and friendly she was to everyone she met. Arielle made that floor a better place, whether it was from her decorating the window at the end of the hall for each holiday or simply smiling at everyone she passed on her way to class.”

While studying abroad, DaCosta affected those she met just as strongly.

“In the month that we were together, we became very close friends – that was just the kind of person Arielle was,” said Allison Candido (COL ’11), DaCosta’s roommate at Villa Le Balze this past summer. “Everyone who met her or around her was touched by her wit, intelligence and overall happy demeanor. . She was one of my close friends, and I only spent about a month with her. She just always knew what to say and literally brightened up a whole room. She loved bubblegum and laughing.”

Andrew Gilligan (COL ’11) studied with DaCosta in Tours, France during the summer after freshman year. “She was really the life of the trip, never afraid to talk to any of the French residents, always winning them over with her curiosity and overwhelming heart,” he said. “She could get excited about anything and even when things went wrong, [she] just had a way of seeing the funny side of things. It was addicting to be around her because you knew you would laugh no matter what the situation.

“She did not care what other people thought – if she felt like dancing in the middle of the street, then she would dance in the middle of the street,” Gilligan said.

Anna Dimon (COL ’11), who is currently studying in Salamanca, said DaCosta’s warmth set her apart. “Arielle was a very sweet girl who always wanted to make sure everyone was happy and enjoying themselves,” Dimon said. “She was full of love for others -always complimenting people and building them up.”

Those who knew DaCosta, a comparative literature major, admired her skill as a writer.

“Sometimes she would wake up around 7 a.m. to write her piece that was due at 10 [a.m.] because she wanted to go out in the city the night before, and her poem or short story would blow us all out of the park. Her writing was just awesome,” said Candido, who participated in the Reading and Writing Italy program with DaCosta at Villa Le Balze this past summer.

John Pfordresher, a professor in the English department, led the Villa Le Balze program and recalled DaCosta’s willingness to learn and to help others with their work.

“[My memory] is a teacher’s memory, of a remarkable student I admired and respected,” Pfordresher said. “Arielle was extraordinarily skilled at listening to the writing of her fellow students, seizing upon the best aspects of what they were doing, praising and encouraging them, and making suggestions for improvement. She was an instinctive teacher and as I remember her, I recall vividly the gentle eagerness with which she praised. Arielle was open to wonder, and enthusiasm, and evinced a genuine excitement in what others were doing which seemed entirely selfless. She showed us how to be simultaneously smart, hardworking and generous.”

While on campus, DaCosta played an active role in Georgetown Radio. She spent two semesters as a music board director and three semesters as co-host of a radio show with Bitterly called “Quirky Quips.”

“She invented the name,” Bitterly said. “We would basically just play our favorite songs and `quip’ about literally anything that we felt like talking about. . We just couldn’t get over the fact that someone actually let us talk on air.”

DaCosta’s devotion to student radio stemmed from her love of music.

“I attribute about half of the music on my iPod to stuff I stole off her computer over the summer,” Candido said. “She loved the Carole King album `Tapestry.’ . She was always singing and humming the songs from it.”

“Music was so important to Arielle – I think it spoke to her creativity and her passion,” Johanna Peiser (COL ’11) said.

DaCosta’s love of travel and languages – she was fluent in French and a student of Spanish – directed her academic pursuits. In addition to the two summers she spent studying abroad, DaCosta planned to spend both semesters of her junior year in Europe. This semester, she studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain, but was planning to move to France for her second semester, according to Magdalena Chica-Garzon, assistant director in the Office of International Programs.

“She was the model student in terms of study abroad, having completed two summer programs and in the midst of a full academic year abroad,” Chica-Garzon said. “She will always be remembered by her numerous advisers in OIP as a pleasant and delightful young woman.”

DaCosta was not only a friend to fellow classmates and professors, but also a lover of animals, which she treated with the same amount of respect.

“She always used to say that people can take care of themselves but animals couldn’t,” Candido said. “When we spent the weekend in the Tuscan countryside, she befriended the huge dog that lived at the farmhouse we stayed at and never stopped petting it even though it was so dirty it made her hands black.”

“I remember there was a stray dog that we saw a decent amount in Tours, and Arielle could not stand to see this,” Gilligan said. “So she made sure to always find him and feed him any leftovers.”

DaCosta grew up in Stoughton, Mass. and attended the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Mass. The cause of her death has not been made public. Her family could not be reached for comment.

In her two years at Georgetown, DaCosta touched the hearts of many.

“We all suffered a huge loss when Arielle left us but I still feel so fortunate that I was able spend the last two years getting to know Arielle and experiencing her warmth and energy,” White said. “Arielle demonstrated how beautiful a person can be both inside and out. I miss her and will never forget her and the impact she had on my life.”

“I’ll miss her every single day. Words can’t describe how much I love her,” Bitterly said.

“It is truly such a tragedy to lose Arielle. I still cannot really grasp it,” Gilligan said. “It just is not fair, and she is missed by so many people. I, along with countless others, will never forget her along with the positive impact she had on all of our lives.”

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