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Tufts alumna Mitra was spirited fighter and healer

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012 17:11


Courtesy Nicholas Bayhi

Tanya Mitra (LA ‘10) brought joy and energy to the Tufts Tae Kwon Do team. She died suddenly at her home on Nov. 3.

Assistant coach Colin Murphy, a graduate student in chemistry at Tufts, praised Mitra as a “frustrating student” of tae kwon do because of her persistent effort to thoroughly understand the art.

“She listened to what you were saying, but then questioned every word of it,” Murphy said. “She would force you to really come up with a good answer.”

Mitra’s thirst for foreign knowledge also attracted her to the German culture, and she spent a semester her junior year in Tuebingen, Germany, and lived in the German Language House on campus for two years, according to Director of the German Program and German Professor Christiane Romero.

“She was an ideal student from my perspective,” Romero said. “She was very engaged in what she was doing, very intellectually curious. What I remember most about her was that she was the kind of person you were drawn to. She had this smile, this warm sparkle about her.”

Mitra’s closest friends at Tufts said she never fit into social norms, instead confidently establishing her own path.

“She was sure of herself and of her opinions, but not in a single-minded way,” Julie Lonergan (LA ’10) said. “She just knew how the world should work, and so she made it work that way.”

Scott Schreiber (E ’09), a graduate student in engineering at Tufts, said that even though she was small in stature, Mitra possessed a powerful charisma and  never failed to make her presence felt in the room.

“She was a small bundle of energy and excitement that would be able to mother you and give you food,” Schreiber said, describing a time when Mitra went out of her way to provide a meal for a classmate she had only just met.

Her friendliness had a magnetic effect on others and brought people together, Kahran Singh (LA ’11) said.

“She always loved having people over,” Singh said, adding that Mitra also hosted a late-night WMFO Tufts Freeform Radio show with roommate Alex Kittle (LA ’10), in which the two were known to have fun playing favorite songs and at other times delve into philosophical discussions.

The Tae Kwon Do team on Nov. 6 held a memorial at Tufts for Mitra, where teammates each wrote messages to her on a wooden board, then ceremoniously broke the boards in martial arts fashion to honor the memory of Mitra, Bayhi said.

Mitra recently tested for a red belt in tae kwon do, the final achievement before attaining black belt, according to Harb. While he never had the opportunity to award the belt to her in person, Harb presented an honorary red belt for Mitra and her family at the memorial.

Mitra is survived by her parents Amit and Snigdha, and a sister, Trishna.

The cause of death at this time is unknown but is under ongoing investigation.

If you have memories of Tanya Mitra you would like to share with the Daily, please contact us at

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