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Freshman Emma Bravo, 18, passes away unexpectedly

Photo by Erika | and Erika The Rice Thresher
Emma Bravo

By Miles Kruppa     2/26/14 9:53am

Hanszen College freshman Emma Bravo suffered an accidental death off-campus on Saturday, Feb. 22 according to an email sent to the Rice community by Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson. 

Hanszen College freshman Emma Bravo suffered an accidental death off-campus on Saturday, Feb. 22 according to an email sent to the Rice community by Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson. 

Bravo was a pre-med student planning to double major in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Hispanic Studies. She also worked at the Texas Children’s Hospital. 

A student-led candlelight vigil was held Saturday night in the Hanszen quad in remembrance. Hanszen College master Rob Griffin said the vigil served as an opportunity to remember the importance of community in the wake of Bravo’s death.

“Our Hanszen students really felt the need to come together as a community because it’s important to remember that we all are part of one family, for lack of a better word,” Griffin said. “When a family member passes on, the best way to respond to something like that is to come together, so it was not only to remember Emma and the part she played in the community, but also an opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy some quiet time.”

Griffin said he will remember Bravo for the role she played in a tight-knit group of freshman at Hanszen. 

”She was part of a tight knit group of first year students that, to me, symbolized how quickly you could become really tight with people, which is really special about the Rice community—it fosters that sense of connectedness,” Griffin said. “To know that she was a part of that special community—I always will think of her in that way.”

Hanszen college senior Edward Tian, Bravo’s O-week adviser, said Bravo’s quirks made her a special person.

“During one of our O-week lunches, she randomly headbutted the shoulder of another one of my new students, and the new student was like, ‘what are you doing,’ and she said something along the lines of ‘cats headbutt things they’re familiar and comfortable with, things that they love,’” Tian said. “Emma didn’t fill any one specific stereotype or mold—she was her own person—and I think at Rice we talk a lot about accepting your quirkiness, but it’s really hard to find that in someone who is really comfortable with themselves.”

According to Bravo’s roommate, Hanszen College freshman Natalie Polacek, Bravo taught her to be a more accepting person.

“She didn’t judge anyone, ever,” Polacek said. “She never looked down on anyone. I think that’s what she taught me—she made me a lot more open-minded than how I used to be. She would always say, ‘you don’t know that person, so you’re not fit to judge them.’”

Polacek also said Bravo had wonderful ability to support her friends. 

“She was there when you needed her,” Polacek said. “When you were feeling sad, she felt sad with you—she was a really empathetic person in that way.”

Hanszen College freshman Danny Kurtz said he will remember Emma’s love for music and spontaneity. 

“My favorite memories with Emma were the days I would walk by and hear her music playing and I would just walk in to her room and start singing and dancing,” Kurtz said. “She would always join in.”

Kurtz said Bravo’s caring nature will be sorely missed by everybody that knew her.

“It didn’t matter the issue, it could have been something she would have never experienced in her entire life, and she could still empathize with you and cry with you because she cared that much that those close to her were happy,” Kurtz said. “Family and friends meant everything to Emma, and she would do whatever it took to make sure that those around her knew she cared about them. Emma loved as strongly as anyone I have ever known, and without her love the world feels like a much colder place. She will be severely missed.”

A viewing will be held Wednesday, Feb. 26 from 6:30-8:3o pm at Waltrip Funeral Home and a service will be held Thursday, Feb. 27 at 1 pm at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church.

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