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July 1, 2004

UMBC Community Mourns the Loss of Graduate Student Jessica Soto Perez

The UMBC administration, faculty and staff are grieving for the tragic loss of student Jessica Soto Perez. Ms. Perez, an outstanding, 26-year-old Ph.D. student in the department of chemical & biochemical engineering, was the victim of a fatal shooting on the edge of the UMBC campus early in the evening on Tuesday, June 29.

The Baltimore County Police department has determined that the tragedy was an isolated domestic incident. There is no threat to the campus or campus community as a whole.

Ms. Perez earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez prior to coming to UMBC. An active and engaged member of the UMBC community, Ms. Perez was a graduate teaching assistant in the department of Chemical & Biochemical Engineering and served as a peer mentor and counselor to other graduate and undergraduate students. She also served as a senator in the graduate student association.

"Our Jessica was dear to all of us and this will be hard to deal with," said Govind Rao, chair of chemical and biochemical engineering. "While every such tragedy is senseless, hers seems particularly more so, given her absolutely positive and life-embracing spirit. While this is hard for us, it is even more important to keep her family in our thoughts and prayers, as it must be far worse for them."

Perez was one of the first peer mentors for PROMISE, an alliance of the three public research universities in Maryland, led by UMBC and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF.) PROMISE is dedicated to increasing the number and diversity of Ph.D. graduates in the sciences and engineering who go on to academic careers.

According to a tribute to Perez on the PROMISE website, "Jessica was a light to all who knew her. She always had a smile, a word of encouragement, a wink, or a laugh. She shared her passion for life. She loved her family and her friends. She loved PROMISE, her lab, the people in the TRC building, her department (Chemical and BioChemical Engineering), and her schools (UMBC and the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez). We will miss her!"

University Counseling Services (410-455-2473 or ext. 5-2474) has trained counselors available to lend support to students, faculty and staff who knew Ms. Perez or who are otherwise affected by this incident. University Counseling Services hours are Monday Friday, from 8:30 a.m. 5:00 p.m. No appointments are needed.

Funeral and/or memorial arrangements will be announced to the campus community as soon as the information becomes available.

Posted by dwinds1 at July 1, 2004 12:00 AM