David Lin, a junior at the University of Miami, died on Jan. 7 at 20 years old after a short battle with cancer. Many students and faculty members were surprised to learn about his death and mourned the loss of an accomplished student leader who made his mark on campus through his dedication to student life and community.
Lin, a double major in microbiology and immunology on the pre-medical track, was involved with several student organizations, including the Committee on Student Organizations (COSO), where he served as treasurer, and the Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO). He was also a First-Year Fellow in Stanford Residential College.
It was through COISO that he participated in countless campus events and activities, meeting and working with students like senior Avisha Gopalakrishna.
“If you ever had the pleasure of knowing David, you would understand when I say he would pour his heart into everything he did and for everyone he loved,” she said.
A Taiwan native and resident of Weston, Fla., Lin helped organize every COISO event since his freshman year, eventually becoming chair for the International Dance Competition and International Week in 2015. In 2016, he was elected vice president of COISO.
It was during the start of the fall semester when he was diagnosed with cancer and had to miss the semester for treatment, though he did not let his absence get in the way of loving COISO as an organization and carrying out his duties, including interviewing potential members via FaceTime from the hospital, Gopalakrishna said.
His devotion to the student organization showed during Homecoming 2016, which Gopalakrishna described as one of the “best days,” when Lin surprised COISO members during the ceremony, coming to campus to see them despite being sick.
“He told me he wanted to support us and that there was no way he would miss out,” she said. “Battling through his illness and pain just to be the supportive friend that he always is – that is how I will remember him.”
Sendi Colquitt, assistant director of student organizations, was Lin’s advisor when he was the treasurer of COSO. She was not only an advisor but a friend, and Colquitt visited Lin in the hospital. She marveled at his strength throughout his battle and his plans of coming back to UM to graduate and then attend medical school.
“He was incredibly positive for every situation and was amazing,” Colquitt said. “His positivity was infectious, and he couldn’t wait to come back.”
Many noted Lin was inseparable from his twin brother, Rick. The two participated in many organizations together. Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely was the first to inform the campus community by email of Lin’s death and noted the bond between the twins.
“Together, they were a dynamic duo on campus,” she said in her statement.
The Lin family could not be reached for comment. A date for a memorial on campus in Lin’s honor has not been set. His funeral will take place in his home country of Taiwan.