Mohamed Magdi Taha, an undergraduate student in Course 6-9 (Computation and Cognition) died in August. Hailing from California and Khartoum, Sudan, the rising junior and resident of New Vassar was passionate about social justice issues, had a deep love for his home country and his family, and had a penchant for writing and the study of poetry.
Writing on an Instagram feed for MIT Class of 2024 members, he wittily and humorously describes himself: “I was born in California but come from Khartoum, Sudan, a North African country with rich Nubian ancestry ( we have more pyramids than Egypt js). Last year, as a people, we overthrew a 30-year-old dictatorship, so it goes without saying that I’m proud of where I come from. 🇸🇩 ❤️ A few quick facts about me: My taste in music is as varied as it gets and I always blast something lmao… My favorite sport is soccer (we call it soccer in Sudan) I’m always up for a fast game. ”
Taha was, indeed, proud of his origins and fully invested himself on campus. “While at MIT, he forged close ties with the Sudanese community in Boston, speaking out at rallies for freedom, peace and justice during a time of political and social unrest in Sudan,” said writes MIT President L. Rafael Reif in a statement. letter to the MIT community.
Reem Agil, a Harvard Graduate School of Education graduate student who knew Taha while a student at Khartoum International Community School, wrote, “I can’t express how brilliant he was,” and said that he would miss his unflappable spirit: “I will miss your warm laughter, your unwavering faith that things will work out eventually, your love for your country, your kindness and your respect for others.
He was also deeply attached to his family, and all remembered his sense of joy and his devotion to uplifting everyone he met. His father, Magdi, says his son “was a deep thinker and enjoyed a good challenge”. He calls her “brave” and “kind” and highlighted her dedication to helping others in big and small ways. “He didn’t see himself in the equation. All he saw was how he could help.
His sister Leena says his brother was “his mainstay”, and his sister Sara says he “was such a pure soul” and “took up such a big space, everywhere he went”. Her sister Summer offered her thoughts in the form of a poem: “You have enlightened us with the endless light within you / and I hope the angels hold you as tight as I wish / I hope they will shower you with love / Love I couldn’t give you / Who knew your future / Would be as bright as heaven?
His mother, Rihab, echoes that sentiment, saying he was “filled with compassion, love and joy” and was “generous” and always willing to share “everything he had: his words, his smile, his laugh”.
On and around campus, Taha made a difference with her classmates, helping with homework and simply choosing the best gifts for others. Classmate Zoe Kuhlken says she and Taha were kindred spirits. She credits him for getting her through her early years at MIT. “Some of my favorite times with Mohamed, believe it or not, were when we were studying the night before exams” and in his encouragement when a test didn’t go as well as either of them had hoped. “He always knew how to comfort people,” she adds, and understand what they needed. “Mohamed was such a good gift giver because he always knew what would make people happy.”
Academically, he was versatile and had a particular passion for poetry. Professor Mary Fuller of MIT’s Literature Section shared a series of emails from Taha asking to enter his completed Literature course. Although she wouldn’t let him in (because it was too late in the semester), she provided mentorship and feedback on a poem he shared, a version of Shakespeare’s famous Sonnet 18: Must- I compare you to a summer day?
“Must I compare you to a starry night / You’re more bewitching and unmoored / Heat and light flee at hand to excite / Sit in their absence, a doomed love… An almost known truth, a tongue must confess: / The Kingdom of the Moon is yours alone to dispute.
Taha said of his poem that it “started out as a sonnet but it was really infuriating to write. I couldn’t quite fit all my ideas into 14 lines, so I added another four lines to make the poem global flows better.In the same way, it has led a life that is difficult to contain in a structured and limited form.
Friend and classmate, Kuhlken shares another of his poems, a meditation that beautifully captured his lively spirit in his own words: “Make no mistake my love / I don’t wish to live forever / I just want to live in your company / long for you, love, like summer to winter / I’ll never get used to you love / As the leaves insist on dying in the fall, I’ll never get used to you love / I don’t wish to live forever / But I will don’t breathe unless you tell me.
In late September, a Khatma (prayer service), memorial event, and poetry night were all held on campus to honor Taha’s life. A mural dedicated to his life will also be placed on campus. Taha’s family and close friends created a scholarship to honor his legacy of helping others and building the community. The scholarship is intended to support students who wish to study STEM and/or the arts in the United States. Anyone can donate to the scholarship fund.