More than 1,200 members of the Johns Hopkins
University community packed the gymnasium of Homewood's
Ralph S. O'Connor Recreation Center on Wednesday morning to
memorialize Linda Trinh, a fallen classmate, pupil, friend
and family member.
Trinh, a 21-year-old
engineering major from Silver Spring, Md., was found
dead on Sunday, Jan. 23, in her residence in a privately
owned building across Charles Street from the Homewood
campus. The case, currently under investigation, has been
determined to be a homicide.
Those gathered at the service came to remember, or
learn of, Trinh's love of comfort food, Care Bears,
high-heeled shoes and the color pink. Friends recalled
Trinh's quick and infectious smile and the way she could
instill comfort in others with just a shrug of her
shoulders and a laugh. Then there were the recurring words
used to describe Linda Trinh: intelligent, generous,
devoted, compassionate, kind, perky, beautiful and
The diminutive young woman with a huge heart clearly
touched many in her four years at Johns Hopkins, borne out
by the words of friends and family who honored her memory
with touching and tear-filled reminiscences of a soul that
is gone but never to be forgotten.
President William R. Brody
opened the service, which was attended by the university's
deans and senior administration, 50 members of Trinh's
family and hundreds of students who, if they did not know
her beforehand, came to know a buoyant life full of promise
Brody spoke of Trinh's optimism and potential, and how
"she was abducted from us all."
A candlelit table with books to
PHOTO BY HIPS/WILL KIRK
"Yet this assembly makes clear, if ever anyone made
good of her time allotted, it was Linda," he said. "So many
friends, so many achievements, so much to show in scarcely
two decades' time. Linda was a loving daughter, a
supportive sister, a good friend and engaging pupil. These
are the qualities by which she is remembered. This is the
Linda we have come to celebrate today."
He also talked of the shared pain the campus was
"We will never be fond of this grief, but we will
learn to accept it," said Brody, who wrestled through his
own emotion in his closing words. "In doing so, each of us
in our own small way lights a flame of enduring love to
The daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, Trinh was a
past president of her sorority, Alpha Phi, and a former
member of the university's volleyball team. She was also an
accomplished student and promising researcher who was twice
named to the dean's list and was one of 16 engineering
students selected last spring to receive a Vredenburg
Scholarship, an honor that allowed Trinh to travel to
Vietnam, where she studied breast cancer detection and
Joseph Gitlin, an associate professor of
radiology at the
School of Medicine, told those gathered of Trinh's academic
ability and her warm spirit. For her first three years at
Johns Hopkins, Trinh worked as an assistant in Gitlin's
research lab, devising ways to use digital mammography to
bring breast cancer screening to women in poor
Gitlin told those gathered about a bright student who
impressed colleagues with her quick grasp of research
goals, theories and technology.
"Linda Trinh was a dedicated student who was
determined to make a major contribution to the health and
welfare of others," he said. "My wife and I got to know the
Trinh family, who turned out to be neighbors, and we became
friends. ... I really believe that through her family's
support and the encouragement by her friends, her
accomplishments in her soft-spoken, humorous way have made
her short life a success. She really is a credit to this
university and especially to her family."
Friends who came on the pink-lit stage to memorialize
Trinh described her as a "smiling burst of energy," a
"generous soul" and someone "who made you feel better about
"Once you met her, you couldn't do anything but know
her, love her and want to protect her," said Jamie Dutton,
a senior biology major.
Erin Trish, a senior biomedical engineering major,
said that perhaps one of Trinh's strongest qualities was
her ability to make others around her completely
"Everyone who met her was guaranteed to like her,"
Trish said. "Everyone found her adorable, sweet,
intelligent and endearing."
"Broken Dreams," a poster at the
PHOTO BY HIPS/WILL KIRK
Quang Trinh, Linda's brother, also spoke on stage and
introduced a video montage of Trinh at work and play,
voiced over by words of goodbye that Trinh herself wrote to
the orphans at Mai Hoa, Vietnam — words, Quang Trinh
said, that now allowed his sister to "say goodbye to us
Thank you for all the laughs. Thank you for all the
smiles. I had a great time getting to know you. You are all
wonderful people. You are hardworking. And caring. Please
don't be sad. When I leave, I will miss you all a lot.
Classes were suspended from 10 a.m. to noon for the
memorial service and the reception that followed.
Before and after the ceremony, the gymnasium space
filled with the sounds of Trinh's favorite songs, such as
Christina Aguilera's Beautiful, a tune that friends said
she would play over and over.
Following the service, many students embraced and then
gathered around memorial walls plastered with photos of a
smiling Trinh. They saw Trinh the volleyball player, Trinh
the fun-loving sorority sister, Trinh the lover of stuffed
animals and Trinh the earnest student.
On one wall hung a five-year "Goal Map" that Trinh
penned last year, a map now sadly full of her unfulfilled
hopes and dreams such as a family trip to the Vatican and
being accepted at Stanford Medical School by summer
Sharon Kugler, the university's
ended the ceremony with words of comfort.
"As I lay my eyes upon so many of you this morning, I
am mindful of our collective brokenness," Kugler said. "As
a community we have shared a penetrating experience of
loss, and we are walking together in a dreaded darkness. No
day, no season will be the same for any of us because Linda
has left this earth. Loss does just that, it forces us to
dwell in places we dread, to confront our most feared and
darkest realities. Because of this, loss also prepares us
to live more profoundly. Grief is that slice of life that
takes us beyond the boundaries of our mind and makes us see
all of life anew."