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Alumni in the News

Brandeis family rallies around Destiny Aquino '12

Destiny Aquino '12 (far right) celebrating at her fifth Reunion in June with Savannah Pearlman '12, Sean Fabery '12, Alex Schneider '12, Yael Katzwer '12 and Ariel Wittenberg '11 (Alex's wife).

Destiny Aquino’s Brandeis family is rallying around her after the 2012 graduate’s mother died unexpectedly this week.

“Destiny has always been there for Brandeis, and now it’s time for us to be there for her,” says Savannah Pearlman ’12. “In a very real way, her Brandeis family is the only family she has left.”

A gofundme campaign has been launched to help Destiny, the only child of a single mother with no extended family. In addition to funeral expenses, Destiny needs to pay for the life-saving medication to treat a rare autoimmune disorder that she has battled since childhood.

Linda Aquino, who died of natural causes at the age of 55, worked tirelessly to offset the cost of Destiny’s medication. She was also the source of Destiny’s health insurance. The loss of support -- emotional and financial -- has been traumatic for Destiny. Due to the unexpected nature of her death, Linda did not leave a will. “Destiny is having to deal with all of it on her own,” Savannah says. “It’s very hard.”

According to Savannah, Destiny was “as Brandeisian as you can get” during her days as a student.

Her attendance at Brandeis was made possible by an Alumni and Friends Scholarship. The Floridian had two majors (American studies and economics) and two minors (women’s, gender and sexuality studies and journalism). She served as student representative to the Brandeis Alumni Association Board of Directors and was active in the Future Alumni of Brandeis group. In addition, she served as a student ambassador to the Brandeis National Committee, visiting chapters in Florida to encourage donations for student scholarships. She recently founded a South Florida chapter of Bold (Brandeisians of the Last Decade).

Savannah, who is currently pursuing her doctorate in philosophy at Indiana University, first “met” Destiny on a Facebook page for incoming members of the Class of 2012. Their friendship grew at Brandeis, where they were roommates. They both returned to celebrate their fifth Reunion in June.

After graduation, Destiny joined Teach for America. She taught briefly in Memphis, Tennessee, before she was forced to withdraw from the program due to a recurrence of her illness.

Between treatments, Destiny has begun work toward a PhD in American studies at Columbia University.
Categories: Alumni in the News
Date: November 10, 2017