The death of Yale sophomore Andre Narcisse touched off a wave of grief in the South Shore neighborhoods he knew as a child and at the Ivy League college where his march toward adulthood met an end.
To the Uniondale High School teacher who coached him through environmental science investigation for three years, Narcisse was a jewel of a pupil who garnered awards and invented new methods of testing pollution in Long Island waters. "He was probably one of the most brilliant students to come into the science program, if not the school," said science research program adviser Paul Lichtman, a high school faculty member for 10 years who said he was close to Narcisse.
The cause of death remained undetermined Monday after an autopsy. Police told Yale officials there was no evidence of foul play in Narcisse's death.
"We're crushed," said Lichtman, recalling how the school missed Narcisse when he left for the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire at the end of his junior year. "He would've been up there with the best of them."
Roommates discovered Narcisse, 19, of Roosevelt, in his dormitory suite on Sunday around 11 a.m., and emergency medical personnel could not revive him, Yale officials said. A spokeswoman for the state medical examiner's office in Farmington, Conn., said the cause of death is "pending further study.
At Yale's Branford College - an intimate residential complex - a vigil was held in Narcisse's honor Monday night in the courtyard of the dormitory where his body was found.
More than 300 students held candles enclosed in paper cups and listened to four of Narcisse's close friends pay tribute to him.
Afterward, many in attendance walked silently into a dorm to sign a guest book for presentation to Narcisse's parents.
News of Narcisse's death didn't immediately register for Jennifer Peralte, 32, of Uniondale, who knew him by the first name Eugerie. A resident of the house where Narcisse lived with his parents and sister three years ago, Peralte said she remembered reading in local newspapers about his achievements in school. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, Narcisse won a $2,500 scholarship for black students in 2008 which only 700 of 140,000 applicants received that year.