'Linda Trinh was Johns Hopkins University at its
Editor's note: At her funeral on Jan. 29, President
William R. Brody gave the eulogy for Linda Trinh, a Johns
Hopkins senior who was found dead Jan. 23 in her apartment
in Baltimore. The standing-room-only service, held at Our
Lady of Vietnam Roman Catholic Church in her hometown of
Silver Spring, Md., was attended by more than 100 students,
faculty and administrators from Johns Hopkins. In honor of
Trinh, Dr. Brody asked that we run his tribute as his
Last year, Linda was asked to describe herself and her
future goals as part of the application for her senior
engineering design project. The few sentences she wrote say
so much about her hopes and dreams for the future.
But they don't say everything.
Linda's own words cannot begin to encompass the great
admiration and respect of her many friends, of her
professors and of her colleagues in research. In one
laboratory, Linda worked on a project to cultivate stem
cells. Her mentor was Professor Hai-Quan Mao, who remembers
Linda as a wonderful person, always smiling. "Everyone in
the lab," he says, "fell in love with her."
Professor Eric Young, who was Linda's academic adviser
and, for one class, her professor, says he watched Linda
evolve at Johns Hopkins. He saw how in this, her senior
year, she was preparing herself for going out into the
world. "Linda was the kind of person you look forward to
seeing," he says. "She was a person with ideas, and
enthusiasm, always interesting to talk to."
Linda's friends and sorority sisters remember Linda's
happiness. She always retained her sense of humor. She was
bubbly. Laughter came easy. She never failed to think of
others. She was a leader, someone who would become
president of her sorority. Someone you would naturally turn
to when you had troubles of your own.
For the past three years, Linda worked as an assistant
in Professor Joseph Gitlin's research lab, devising ways to
use digital mammography to bring breast cancer screening to
women in poor communities. Professor Gitlin remembers Linda
as one of those rare and exceptional students who could
grasp the research and at the same time talk with women of
different ages and entirely different backgrounds and make
them comfortable and at ease. "She was so mature for her
age, so courteous and respectful and sensitive," he says.
"Linda was instrumental in helping us reach out to the
These are the things people at Johns Hopkins say about
Linda. You may not have heard these words before, but these
sentiments about Linda come as no surprise, knowing her as
And of course, you all know what Linda said about
Johns Hopkins. You know how much she loved the university,
and how happy she was to be a student there. Linda was too
kind, too thoughtful, too caring ever to be called proud.
But she was proud — intensely proud — to be part of
Hopkins. She was in her element, in the community of
All of this you know about Linda. But what you may not
know is how proud we at Johns Hopkins are of Linda.
On her senior engineering design project she wrote: "I
am a senior Biomedical Engineer. This past summer I
traveled to Viet Nam to observe the public health issues
regarding breast cancer. I also made time to volunteer at
an AIDS hospice in Ho Chi Minh City for a month. My goal is
to obtain a doctorate degree ... . I hope to significantly
impact the world with my research ... to lobby for better
and more affordable health care services for cancer and
AIDS patients in third-world countries."
Linda Trinh was Johns Hopkins University at its
finest — determined to use her intelligence and faith and
insights to advance knowledge in order that she might help
Linda represented the bright promise of tomorrow. She
was joyful laughter. She was our best hopes for the future.
With you today, all of Johns Hopkins mourns. We have
all lost a golden glimpse of the future. We have all lost a
But we do not despair of hope, remembering Linda's
devout faith, and the comforting words of the prophet
Micah: "When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness,
the Lord shall be a light unto me."
Not long ago, a physician from Johns Hopkins who
served as an Army doctor in Vietnam had a six-year-old son
who developed leukemia. After many months of terrible
struggle, the boy died. And his father, reflecting that
despite their very best efforts they could not save their
son, came to realize the only absolutely sure thing in life
is the love we can give to others. And so he wrote about
his experiences, and in particular, he wrote these final
words I can offer, this brief benediction for all parents
"May we all find peace in the shared hope that our
children who brought us such joy with their short lives are
now a host of angels, loving us still, feeling our love for
them, awaiting our coming, and knowing that they are safely
locked forever in our hearts."
William R. Brody is president
of The Johns Hopkins University.