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Friends Recall Memories of Sandip Nirmel During Memorial Gathering

Dunster House.
Dunster House. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Delano R. Franklin, Crimson Staff Writer

Dozens of Harvard students and administrators gathered to remember and honor the life of Sandip Nirmel ’21 at a memorial service in Dunster House Sunday afternoon.

Nirmel died in May after an extended illness. Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana described him as “deeply valued and loved” in a May 24 email to students.

Dunster Faculty Deans Sean D. Kelly and Cheryl K. Chen and Resident Dean Michael S. Uy hosted the memorial Sunday. Attendees were asked to share memories with each other and write messages to Nirmel’s family.

During the ceremony, music from Frédéric Chopin and Sergei Rachmaninoff played in the background. Kelly said Nirmel had enjoyed playing music from both composers on the piano. Kelly then spoke of Nirmel’s reputation as someone who contributed greatly to Dunster and the College overall.

At Harvard, Nirmel concentrated in Computer Science with a focus in Mind, Brain, and Behavior. Beyond academics, he was a case team leader for the Harvard College Consulting Group and vice chair of the Harvard Society for Mind, Brain, and Behavior.

Kelly and Chen wrote in a May email to Dunster residents that Nirmel was also an avid participant in intramurals, and that he could often be found in the House working on problem sets or eating breakfast with his friends.

At Sunday’s gathering, Uy spoke of his relationship with Nirmel, read remarks from Nirmel’s parents, and made note of resources available to students dealing with grief.

Several students said they remembered Nirmel as an optimist, hard-worker, and close friend. Some also spoke about their time with Nirmel in high school at the Harker School, as well as stories from college. Friends from high school shared light-hearted stories, recalling Nirmel’s sense of humor and positive attitude.

David Zhu ’21 recalled a memory of Nirmel participating in a relay race for a school spirit event in high school. Zhu said the last leg of the relay involved sticking marshmallows to school administrators’ faces, and that Nirmel took on the task with composure even after his team had lost.

“He was just so calm, so collected,” Zhu said. “He just kept on throwing the marshmallows and, eventually, they stuck.”

Dunster held a smaller gathering in May, though many students had already left campus because final exams had already ended. Kelly said they held the second gathering, in part, for those who were not able to attend the May event.

—Staff writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @delanofranklin_.

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