Best and Brightest’ Scholar’s Promising Future Ends Tragically

Devin Gaines, who became one of
the University of Connecticut’s
most noteworthy 2007 alumni when he graduated with five degrees in five years,
died early Tuesday morning.

Gaines was
featured in a Diverse series on the “Best & Brightest” minority
college students shortly after earning bachelor’s
degrees in computer science, theater studies, cognitive science and linguistic
psychology. His fifth degree was in an individualized major: cinema, culture
and cognition.

The Harford
Courant
reported that Gaines had gone for a swim with friends to Blakeslee
Pond in Deep River, Conn.,
and drowned in the abandoned pit that forms the pond. The pond, which is 100
ft. deep in some places, has been closed following a swimming accident in the
mid-1990s. Security frequently patrols the pond to prevent people from swimming
there.

Though
toxicology results are still pending, medical examiners classified the death as
an accidental drowning.

“My brother is
not a swimmer, he was not athletic, he was a book worm,” Gaines’ sister,
Netosha Sumter, told the Courant.

Gaines, who
graduated in May with a 3.2 GPA, had been working as an information technology
associate for Pension Associates, a tax consulting firm.

A message posted
on the firm’s Web site reads: “Our prayers go out to the family and friends of
Devin Gaines, a recent Uconn grad and our employee for the last one and a half
months. He will be sorely missed.”

Gaines’ extraordinary academic journey began 12
years ago, when his father introduced him to the world of computers.

“My father
brought home a broken computer, and I was able to put it together. When he saw
that I did that, he decided to take me to a community center. [There,] I met up
with a woman who became my inspiration in life,” 22-year-old Gaines said in a
May interview with Diverse.

The woman was
Kathryn Murdock, the executive director of the Yerwood
Center, located a few blocks from
Gaines’ home.

For more
information on Gaines’ life, see
www.diverseeducation.com/artman/publish/article_7325.shtml, where his friends
and family members have posted messages about the scholar.

– Margaret Kamara

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