Dominique Chandler ’10 loved the color pink.
She was the proud owner of a pink book bag, a pink laptop case and pink pens. She would often wear a pink ribbon in her hair.
She had an infectious smile and big, brown eyes that lit up when she talked about her family, friends or future aspirations.
And then, police discovered Dominique’s body in her dorm room just before 11 a.m. Friday. Authorities have tentatively labeled her death a suicide.
Her family, friends and the College of William and Mary community are mourning the loss of a life.
Dominique transferred to the College from Norfolk State University in 2008 and quickly adjusted to life on campus, taking up a psychology major, making the dean’s list and planning to study therapy in graduate school.
“This tragic loss comes at a time when I truly believed that Dominique was at her peak,” Anna Luz King, Dominique’s mentor, said in an e-mail. “She was excited about the prospect of going to graduate school. My husband just drove her to Miami University to interview for a Ph.D. program two weeks ago, and we were so excited to hear about the next stage of her life.”
King met Dominique at Churchland Middle School in Portsmouth, Va. where she taught Spanish. The pair grew close and eventually developed a mother-daughter relationship. Although King moved away from Virginia during Dominique’s high school career, the two remained close, and King drove 12 hours to see Dominique’s high school graduation ceremony.
“Dominique was special,” King said. “She had a strong presence and conviction for what she believed in. Most of all, she loved to help people who were hurting.”
Ultimately, Dominique wanted to open a center for abused or neglected children.
“She didn’t feel that there were proper resources or places for these kids to go, or people who really understood or cared for them properly,” Sarina Adkins ’11, who met Dominique shortly after she transferred, said in an e-mail. “She really had a passion to help others who would normally have been overlooked or ostracized.”
This passion motivated her to spend last summer working at two camps, one for adults with mental illnesses and another for emotionally or behaviorally disturbed children.
“She led group therapy with [the kids] a few times and felt so excited to do so,” Adkins said. “She said this is what she really wanted to do.”
In her free time, she competed in debate and speech competitions and played piano. She wrote piano pieces that could be used for musical therapy, and used her creativity and warm-heartedness to help her friends.
“She gave very wise, genuine advice, which really made a difference in my life,” Adkins said. “I listened to what she said. Not only that, but she was very intelligent; I was almost intimidated by her wisdom and motivation to make something of her life when she literally had very little help.”
Dominique worked in the College’s athletic department to support herself financially.
“Dominique encouraged the dreams of others and fought for her own dreams with a powerful determination,” Alyssa Shultz ’09 said. “She fought to live, and [she] fought hard.”
Dominique’s passion for helping others was rooted in her profound faith in God.
“Dominique loved God,” Adkins said. “She believed in Him, and she loved Him. Her life was very hard, more difficult than you or I could understand or imagine, but she lived for God.”
Faith in a higher power, as well as her love of pink and her warm-hearted demeanor, is the legacy Dominique will leave behind in all who knew her.
“My heart is filled with pain and sorrow,” King said. “I have lost a part of me and gained a part of her. I will forever honor her memory, and she will always be my butterfly, my angel, my daughter, my friend.”