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Andre Ramadan, a second-year political science major, died of unknown causes on Nov. 6 while on the Semester at Sea Program.
Andre died in his on-ship room while the vessel was docked at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The ship’s student life staff and vessel management company, in addition to Vietnamese and American authorities, are investigating the cause of Andre’s passing.
David Hunter Cordeiro, a third-year UCSB student who lived next door to Andre in the dorms, said Andre loved to play tennis and spend time with his friends.
“He was really friendly, the kind of person that just said hi to everyone,” Cordeiro said. “He was goofy, just a big teddy bear — a really friendly guy.”
Andre’s cousin, Nick Colachis, said he misses Andre dearly.
“He was just one of those people who made you feel better when you were around him,” he said.
Third-year political science major Connor Kennedy said Andre’s enthusiasm for life was apparent to those who knew him.
“Andre was passionate about people and cultures; he would have just said ‘life.’ Somehow, he understood it all,” Kennedy said. “Being around people, experiencing people and just living, interacting — that was what made him happy. He wanted to get on that boat with other people who loved seeing the world and exploring how people associate; the world to Andre was people.”
Zack Guthrie, a third-year economics and political science major, said Andre was a kind-spirited friend to all.
“Andre will be missed the world over,” Guthrie said. “If there’s anything that I will remember for the rest of my life, it’s that this kid just had the biggest heart.”
According to Guthrie, the Ramadan family has received the autopsy results and wishes to keep them private.
“They will not release [the autopsy]; it’s a personal family matter. As far as the family has let anyone know, it was a natural death,” Guthrie said.
News Director of Public Affairs George Foulsham said Andre died due to unknown medical causes.
“We don’t know [exactly what happened],” Foulsham said. “All we know is that there are no updates on how he died.”
While Cordeiro said he knows what happened, he added that he is “not supposed to disclose it.”
According to Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs for the Institute for Shipboard Education Lauren Heinz, investigations are underway according to regulation.
“Anytime you have an incident of this caliber occur, basically we’re governed by maritime law and by our own policies,” she said.
A memorial service was performed onboard two days after Andre’s death and another small memorial was held in Irvine at Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church last Saturday.
Currently, the Semester at Sea program is focused on attending to the emotional needs of the students who were traveling with Andre.
“On Semester at Sea, we’re a very closely knit community. When we have a tragedy like this occur, it deeply affects everyone,” Heinz said. “In the past week or so, our efforts have really focused on making sure that their community can come together to grieve and support one another.”
Semester at Sea faculty members Nina and Geno Carr wrote in their Off Exploring blog about the memorial service and the healing process for students who knew Andre.
“[During the memorial], each person received a flower and processed silently to the aft … of the ship. One by one as we passed by we each said a prayer or sent up a good thought and threw our flower into the sea. It was really moving,” the blog post said. “Now the healing begins.”