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In memoriam: my friend Dan

The tree that accompanies the above plaque was planted to honor Miami student Daniela DiSanto, who died in August of 2021.
The tree that accompanies the above plaque was planted to honor Miami student Daniela DiSanto, who died in August of 2021.

A 20-year-old college kid does not know much. In fact, there are only two things I know in life for certain. 

One: I love Miami. 

Two: Friendship is the most vulnerable thing one will ever have. Friendship grows at such an exceptional rate, but it can also effortlessly slip through your fingertips.

As a new semester dawns upon us, it is inevitable that most students look towards the future. However, what most do not realize is that the moments in the past are what shape the moments moving forward. 

For a large part of the campus here in Oxford, much of the past is filled with memories of Daniela DiSanto.

Unfortunately, Daniela passed away shortly before her sophomore year. This tragedy struck the hearts of her family, friends and the campus of Miami University. While Daniela had only spent a year on campus, she impacted others in a multitude of ways.

Of course, if you knew Dan, you knew she loved to laugh. 

Her smile was as bright and wide as the sun. Contagious is an understatement for how Daniela’s happiness affected the people around her. Even when you were on the brink of tears, her smile would ignite a fire within you and make your soul fly.

On Aug. 17, 2021, Daniela’s soul left us to fly back amongst the stars. Yet her memory remains on campus through a tree planted in Central Quad — a symbol of life that shows us how Daniela may no longer be with us, but her memories continue to grow, flourish and prosper within our minds, bodies and hearts. 

Photo by Luke Macy | The Miami Student

Next time you want to get some fresh air, take a walk to Central Quad and make a memory with Daniela.

Just like everything in life, there is a lesson to be learned from these past experiences. Cherish your time here. Enjoy every second. Make memories with your friends. Take pictures. Smile and be happy. 

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But most importantly, Daniela would want you to know that you are not alone. 

About 73% of college students encounter problems with mental health at some point in their college career. While the majority of students will encounter mental health issues, I feel that Miami students as a whole are not fully aware of the availability of mental health resources on our campus.

At Miami, students have access to a plethora of resources that can help to improve and enhance your mental health. From the multiple mental health clubs (Active Minds, All About You, Never Walk Alone and MENtal Health, to name a few) to free preliminary on-campus counseling sessions, all students should be aware of the resources our university has to offer, as well as resources off-campus.

Whether you simply join a mental health club and chat with some friends at meetings or decide to schedule weekly on-campus counseling sessions, there is a mental health plan that is right for you. 

Additionally, for further professional support, there are also fully-licensed off-campus outpatient counseling centers and mental health providers in the City of Oxford.

The sad reality of today’s world is that mental health affects everyone. However, the reality that we must begin to realize is that mental health can become a strength within your life rather than a weakness. 

This semester, take care of your mind and your body, then use your strong mental health to create memories in which you are smiling as bright as the sun.