West Virginia University today (Aug. 16) issued the following statement after learning of the death of Emily Spickler, a junior journalism major from Shepherdstown, while studying abroad:
“The WVU community is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Emily’s passing,” said Dr. Michael Lastinger, associate provost for International Academic Affairs, whose office learned of the tragic news late Monday. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the Spickler family and Emily’s many friends and sorority sisters (Alpha Omicron Pi), many of whom have returned to campus to prepare for the fall semester.
“Emily, 19, was an aspiring journalist and a life-long dancer, who was on a prestigious year-long exchange at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba – and from all accounts, was enjoying her experience abroad.”
Lastinger said WVU is in contact the family and with colleagues in international programs at the University of Southern Queensland. Also, WVU’s Carruth Center is offering counseling and other support services for students.
Approximately 1,000 students study abroad each year, according to Lastinger, some on spring break, some on a summer or semester basis, and others, like Emily, for a year. While there have been accidents and illnesses, this is the first tragedy of this nature that anyone can recall.
An autopsy determined that the death was the result of natural causes.
She was on the Dean’s List two out of the last four semesters while at WVU, and was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, a national honor society for first-year students, and National Society of Collegiate Scholars, as well as Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. She was employed as a writer for the student-run newspaper, The Daily Athenauem, as well as for two online publications; Fashionista.com and HerCampus.com.
CONTACT: University Relations/News
Michael Lastinger, associate provost for international affairs
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