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The Dartmouth
February 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Vasudha Thakur ’23 remembered for radiance and intelligence

Known for her passion for social work, Thakur one day hoped to become a civil servant in India.

vasudha-thakur.jpg
Courtesy of Saksham Arora

Described by those close to her as kind, intelligent, passionate and genuine, Vasudha Thakur ’23 brought light to everyone around her. 

“It was sort of like a breath of fresh air meeting [Vasudha] – As soon as we met, I knew that we would be close friends,” friend and classmate Saksham Arora ’23 said. “She [was] very intelligent and very positive.” 

Arora said he and Vasudha Thakur ’23, both from New Delhi, India, met each other at a gathering of Indian students. Arora said that he instantly recognized Thakur as an “extremely radiant” person whose laughter was “contagious.”

Thakur, an economics and geography double major at Dartmouth, passed away on March 25 at age 21, according to an email sent by Dean of the College Scott Brown. The Dartmouth has not confirmed her cause of death at this time. 

Thakur attended Sanskriti School in New Delhi and is survived by her two parents and her younger sister, Arora said.

At Dartmouth, Thakur was involved in a number of on-campus activities, Arora explained. She conducted research with Economics Professor Steve Mello during her junior year — studying the effects of wage increases on recidivism — and was involved with the International Students Association and the Film Club. Thakur also volunteered as an orientation leader for South Asian international students, helping them adjust to college. She was particularly passionate about studying economics and agriculture, defending women’s rights and ending caste-based discrimination, Arora added.

Thakur’s friend and fellow geography major Sheen Kim ’23 wrote in an email statement that Thakur had a “striking presence” and an “absolutely bold, wicked sense of humor.” 

“She reminded me how to be bold — or how to commit to the bit, in other words,” Kim wrote. “There’'s not many like that.” 

To friend and roommate Mark Gitau ’23, Thakur was “kind and thoughtful.” Gitau said that he doesn’t “smile that much naturally,” but Thakur would notice when things were off with him, even though others often are notable to do so. 

“People tend to think that I just have this resting face,” Gitau said. “She used to be able to tell the difference between my [resting] face, or when I'm actually not okay.”

According to Arora, Thakur hoped to follow in her parents’ footsteps as an Indian civil servant and was planning to return to India to take the civil service exam, Aora said. 

“She wanted to use what she had to … improve people's lives, ” Arora said.  

Gitau said he met Thakur freshman year when they took COSC 01: “Introduction to Programming & Computation” together. The two “maintained their friendship” after the class ended and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They often went stargazing, watched movies and did art together, he added. 

“She was in India for most of the time during COVID, and I was in Kenya,” Gitau said. “We didn’t really talk for a year, but when we came back to campus it was just like nothing had changed.”

Gitau said that Thakur had a very “grounding presence” in his life, and that she was someone he could turn to for “a logical sounding board.”

So Amano ’23 said Thakur loved cooking – a hobby she developed after the pandemic. Thakur frequently asked her friends if they wanted anything, and she was always “really excited to make stuff.” 

Friend and classmate Catariona Farquharson ’23 said Thakur was extremely “sincere” and “kind.” 

“I remember when she complimented a sweater I was wearing that I really liked,” Farquharson said. “Usually, I’d be like, ‘Oh, thank you so much,’ but she just said it in a way that I feel like she really wanted to show me how cool she thought it was.” 

Farquharson and Thakur met during their junior year through mutual friends. Eventually, Farquharson said she spent more and more time hanging out with Thakur’s friend group in her senior apartment. 

“We would often sit down and have these debates within the apartment about random stuff every day,” she said. “I feel like Vasudha was always so interested in whatever we were talking about and really wanted to both hear our perspectives [and] also challenge us.”

Amano said he also enjoyed debating with Thakur. 

“She was very confident in the way she thinks and what she believed in,” he said. “What was unique was that even though she would never change her opinion fundamentally, we could find a common point. Talking to her was like a safe space – not in that she would agree with everything you would say, but [when] she would disagree with you, it would be fair.” 

Farquharson added that Thakur brought a “light” to everything she did. 

“I think the best way to pay respect is to just keep talking about all the good times we had together,” Farquharson said.