Remembering our friend, Dan Hollis

Submitted photo.

When I walked into my Introduction to College Writing class during my first semester at Emerson, the professor asked us to pair up to do interviews as an icebreaker—something I thought would be awful after hearing stories from upperclassmen.

That icebreaker activity ended up being one of the most memorable moments of my freshman year.  

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I paired up with the person sitting directly next to me so I wouldn’t have to get up. Since I am a journalism major, I opted to interview first and asked simple small-talk questions.

I learned that my partner’s hometown was 30 minutes outside Boston, he was a marketing communication major, and he played lacrosse for the college. However, I forgot to ask him for his name. 

In the next class, I walked back into the classroom and sat next to the same person. I felt ashamed that I didn’t know his name because I’m sure he knew mine, but I asked anyway.

“Hey, sorry, I totally forgot to ask you for your name last class,” I remember asking. 

“Dan,” he responded. “Dan Hollis.”

Dan and I became friends and worked on most of our in-class assignments together. We got to know each other throughout the semester and built a relationship stronger than an in-class friendship through his passion for playing lacrosse and with me covering the team as a sports editor.

I quickly found out that Dan and one of my freshman year suite mates were best friends, so I frequently saw him after class and got to know him even better. From my love for sports to Dan’s light-hearted personality, we got to know each other so well that his friends became my friends, and vice versa. 

This past Sunday, three of Dan’s friends on the lacrosse team visited my suite unannounced, which typically doesn’t happen, so I could tell something was wrong. We all asked each other how we were doing, but I noticed someone was missing.

“Where’s Dan?” I asked.

“You haven’t heard?” I remember one of them asking me. 

That’s when I found out that the first person I met and had a genuine connection with at Emerson was in a medically induced coma after undergoing emergency brain surgery. I was told that he got into a fight outside a party in Allston and was hurt, but that he would be all right. 

I was initially shocked and terrified about what happened, but I told myself that everything was going to be okay because I had never experienced something like this before. I told myself that Dan would be practicing on Rotch Field in no time and that everything would be back to normal. 

I found out that Dan’s condition worsened significantly Sunday morning and that he was going to die. I couldn’t believe it. Dan was always committed to what he believed in, whether that was on the field or off. He never gave in to hardship and always looked for the best in anyone. I’m going to miss visiting Dan and his roommate to talk about sports and our drastically different taste in music.

I will remember Dan as a caring, compassionate, athletically talented, and down-to-earth person. I wish Dan’s family the best in finding the road to recovery after this tragedy.

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