The Johns Hopkins community has recently had to endure
another painful loss as sophomore Dominic Ferrara was found
dead Feb. 7 in his Wolman Hall residence at the Homewood
campus. Baltimore police have told university officials
there was no evidence of homicide.
The death occurred just two weeks after senior
engineering student Linda Trinh was killed in her
Ferrara, a dean's list student in the School of Arts
and Sciences, was an undeclared major who was following a
physics track. Faculty remembered Ferrara as an
intelligent, serious and inquisitive student.
"We are, of course, shocked and saddened by the whole
turn of events," said Collin Broholm, a professor in the
Physics and Astronomy Department who taught Ferrara in his
freshman year. "He was a bright and promising young student
of physics. He was doing very well, and we were really
happy to hear that he planned on coming back to take more
courses [in the department]."
A memorial service for Ferrara will be held at 7:30
p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24, in the university's Interfaith
Center. A funeral mass took place on Feb. 12 at Our Lady of
Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in his hometown of Doylestown,
In a letter to students, staff and faculty, President
William R. Brody told the university community of the
grievous period Johns Hopkins is currently going
"We do not know precisely what led to this terrible
occurrence. We do know, however, that it pains us deeply,"
Brody said. "At a time when we already stand in mourning
for one life taken far too soon, we are asked somehow to
cope with the loss of another. It is incomprehensible. It
seems too much to bear. And yet somehow we must find the
strength to bear it. I firmly believe that such strength
comes not only from within ourselves but also from within
our community. We must stand together, console each other,
support each other and, most importantly, look out for each
Last Thursday and Friday the Homewood deans and
President Brody set time aside to meet with students at
various public locations throughout the campus. The
university's leaders said that they wanted to make
themselves directly available to those who might want to
talk about issues of loss, grief, security or whatever else
was on their mind.
In his letter, Brody stressed the need "to help
ourselves and others in times of distress."
"The most important thing to remember, whether you are
concerned about yourself or about someone else, is this:
You are not alone. Get help. It's not in any way a sign of
weakness to do so. It's simply the right thing to do, and
it makes a difference," he said.
Students who seek support are encouraged to meet with
their RAs, other Residential Life staff, professionals at
the Counseling Center or student peer counselors.
Last semester, the university sent information to
students, faculty and staff on how to recognize students in
emotional distress and how to respond. That material is
available online at
Michael Mond, director of the JHU Counseling Center,
said that many students will react to the death of a fellow
student with grief and that the intensity can vary
depending on how well they knew the person, their
relationship with the individual or what it triggers for
them from their own lives. Some people avoid their grief,
he said, because it is too painful to think about, or "they
feel they have to be strong as an example for others, or to
maintain a public image.
"Grief is generally a normal and natural, though
deeply painful, response to loss," Mond said. "It is
important for people to know that experiencing their grief
is an important part of the process to overcoming it.
Additionally, completing the grief cycle properly often
helps people learn about themselves, their ability to cope
and deal with loss or other difficulties that may arise
later in life."