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Ariana M. Kam ’16 first met Samantha Lin ’16 when Lin was walking the Leverett House greyhound. Upon learning that Kam loved greyhounds, Lin didn’t hesitate: She arranged to have Kam look after the greyhound for the rest of the school year.
“I think only Sam could have understood how much happiness that dog brought me, and I will always be grateful to her for that simple act of kindness,” wrote Kam, who came to know Lin through their shared concentration in Organismic Evolutionary Biology.
Lin, a veterinary student and former Crimson Sports Comp Director, was killed Aug. 5, when two cars hit her as she was crossing the street in Napa, Calif. She was 25 years old.
Lin’s friends and professors remember her as a lover of all living creatures who approached everything she did with unyielding dedication.
“Sam was just someone who always gave everything like 100, 110 percent, whether it was The Crimson or the coursework or her friends,” said Brenna R. Nelsen ’15, who befriended Lin when they were both seeking to join The Crimson. “She was always so motivated and driven and truthfully inspiring.”
A rising fourth-year student at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Lin was close to achieving her goal of being a small animal surgeon, which had been her dream since she was four years old. During her time at NC State, she won a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine endowment grant and the school’s Dr. James Edgar Smallwood Scholarship for Student Excellence.
“She was absolutely loving life, because she was kind of living out her childhood dream of actually becoming a veterinarian,” Nelsen said. “One of the saddest things is to realize is that Sam is never going to live out her dream of being a small animal surgeon.”
While at Harvard, Lin surrounded herself with animals and animal enthusiasts. In addition to befriending the Leverett House greyhound, she researched canine genomics at the Broad Institute and incorporated her research in her senior thesis. Beginning in her sophomore year, Lin began volunteering with the cardiology team of the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.
Lin also spent considerable time with the Harvard Pre-Vet Society, serving on its executive board. She created a “genuinely supportive community” for those aiming to attend veterinary school, according to Andrew J. Berry, Lin’s academic advisor. She provided information about the veterinary application process and designed shirts for the society’s members, emblazoned with the slogan “Real doctors treat more than one species.”
While juggling pre-veterinary requirements and extracurriculars, Lin made time to watch and follow football, another one of her enduring passions. After matriculating to Harvard, Lin decided to keep football a part of her life as a sports writer for The Crimson.
“When I ended up at Harvard, where CS50 office hours are better attended than football games, I realized I had two options if I wanted to religiously attend games without fielding too many questions on why I was there—the first was joining the cheer team; the second, writing football for the Crimson Sports Board,” Lin wrote in her parting Crimson article.
After reporting on women’s crew and basketball competitions, Lin attained her desired position as football beat writer, a role that entailed traveling up and down the East Coast and sitting outside in freezing cold weather. She bore it all with optimism, according to fellow Crimson sports editor David S.W. Steinbach ’16. The two covered football together for three years, during which they shared each other’s company for many a long drive.
“You learn a lot about someone when you take a four or five hour drive with them, and often you will grow sort of tired of your travel companions,” Steinbach said. “And I was never once tired or bored while talking with Sam on those long rides, not one bit really. She just truly had an engaging personality and was relentlessly optimistic.”
The pair went on to direct the Sports Board comp, training and initiating hopeful sportswriters. The prospect of continuing to work with Lin — who often stayed late to help him transcribe quotes even after she had filed her own story — drove Steinbach to sign on as a comp director.
“I think that the compers that we interacted with just looked up to Sam immensely just because of the sort of magnetic and engaging and selfless personality that she had,” Steinbach said.
That magnetic personality is what her friends and mentors say they will miss the most.
“When Sam walked into a room, people spontaneously gravitated to her, and things — good things, fun things, exciting things — would happen,” Berry wrote in an email. “Sam had so much to give the world.”
—Staff writer Rebecca S. Araten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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