Tara Arya Ming-Hui Atluri
2002 - 2021

Tara Arya
Ming-Hui Atluri
2002 - 2021

Tara Arya's Celebration of Life

Watch the service below

Leave a Memory of Tara Below

Tara Arya's Memory

Dearest Tara,

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”
― Alfred Tennyson

Thank you for every seed and bloom.

Ann Yee Mah

Ann Lau

Happy Birthday, Tara.

Sobhan Babu

Hey birdfriend,
As always, thinking of you. Remember the wildflowers and arctic foxes at Hornvik? Remember the stars at Joshua Tree?

Wherever you are,

May you be happy
May you be safe
May you be healthy and strong
May you have ease and well-being

Love infinity and forever,


Dear Tara,
I think about you a lot even though we didn’t know each other well. Sometimes I think I see you out of the corner of my eye on the street or the train, but when I look it isn’t you. I saw a painting of fish today and it reminded me of your beautiful art. It breaks my heart that you aren’t here anymore. I pray for your family and friends and I hope you are at peace. I won’t forget you.
Love, e


i think about you often. you weren’t in my world for terribly long, nor were we close, but you gave me so much joy. i have so many beautiful memories with you. i will forever grieve never being able to dance in your kitchen to the juke box again. getting drunk in your garden and watching you climb your tree because that’s always where you naturally ended up. making dice with you. singing leaving on a jet plane in tori’s bedroom. recording our conversations because they were just so damn funny. sitting in your sister’s bunk bed and “playing” 36 questions to fall in love. watching you do your little dance to the jackbox theme song. putting birthday hats on your dogs. i love you, tara. i miss you everyday. i wish so badly that i could bring you back. you filled every person you ever touched with radiance and joy, just from your smile and inherent interest and excitement in everything around you. i was only a friend of a friend, and yet your small presence made such an impact on me that it’s hard to breathe sometimes when i think about your loss. i can’t even imagine what it must be like for those closest to you. you are truly missed. i hope you are resting easy. i don’t really believe in an afterlife, but by god i hope it exists so that i can see you again. thank you for everything. <3


little over two years ago, you have left this world. You will never be taken away from our thoughts and hearts.

Sobhan Atluri

i miss the way my head fit on top of yours when i hugged you. love you always.


Dearest Tara,

On the beach at Montauk a couple of weeks ago, the waves crashed on the rocks, just as they did when you were little. The seashells were everywhere, waiting for you to pick them up, take them home, relish their found beauty.

I’ve learned the names of some trees and flowers. I’ve even made friends with some, who speak to me of the sun and air, of water and earth, of insects and birds, of gentleness and patience. I think you would have understood.

There has been suffering. You left a void in the universe and in our hearts. But we’ve all in our own ways been filling the voids with rich soil, planting seeds, nurturing the new possibilities, waiting for them to grow. Someday they will blossom and bear fruit, and your beloved birds will take refuge and sing in their branches.

I scattered some of your ashes in the holy river Ganges, by the pyres of Varanasi. Hindu priests there and at Gaya recited the ancient Sanskrit prayers to the old gods, to ease your passage to the next realm.

I go back and forth over the past and what might have been. I see now that I made many mistakes, so many. And some of them made things harder for you and for your mother and sister. I deeply and humbly apologize to you and to them.

I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.



Dear Tara,

we did not have the chance to meet in this iteration of our lives, but I’ve heard a lot about you through your dad. I lost my partner in a very similar way as your dear family lost you.
This pain of loss is incredibly huge and long-lasting, more than I’ve ever imagined pain could feel like. But it will guide us to grow in beautiful ways. The meaning of life is getting deeper with the pain we feel.
I would have loved to meet you in person, I hope we’ll have the chance though, in one way or another.
Sending hugs from Berlin/Germany.

Lots of love,


Tara, we miss you. With your precise, quirky sense of things, and your ability to find beauty in what others did not, you were both scientist and artist. Your sensitivity and wisdom are needed more than ever. Much, much love from all of us. Sanjay Uncle

Sanjay Reddy

Dear Tara,

It’s been two years since you were last here and, while things have never been the same, I’m glad I find myself pausing to appreciate the world around me in the ways you always did. Sometimes I see a weird-looking plant or bug and I stop to take a moment because I know you would have loved it. This year, I got to see bioluminescent fungus gnat larvae and it was like the galaxy had settled here on Earth. It reminded me of the slime mold you sent me a picture of in the mail. I wish you could have been there to see it, but I’m glad you found peace, friend.

With love,

Ron Mandal

Once, when Tara was about 15 (?) she was ‘babysitting’ our daughter who is several years younger, while we went to a concert. When the concert was over, we texted Tara to ask how things were going. She wrote back, “Great! We decided to found a country. We wrote a constitution, established a currency, and declared independence!” Our daughter had never had so much fun.

Julia Harrington Reddy

It’s so hard to forget her. She will be in in our hearts and minds forever 🕉🪷

Ramesh Atluri

Life hasn’t been the same since you left us. Not a day goes by without your memories. RAJI constantly talks talks to you, how he missed the opportunity to be close to you and get to know you more. I love those moments you brought light and laughter into our lives. The first time we held you in our arms, Tata garu and I felt like we won million bucks. You charmed us with your brilliance, amused us with your spontaneous naughtiness and taught us how to be gracious when odds are against you. Your smile is contagious, your kindness is immeasurable and your talents are innumerable. I still remember how you spent a whole week of our vacation in Hawaii naming and creating a family around a small lizard and amusing all with the story you built around it.
Taramma, our angel !! I know Tata garu and you must be having a great time together wherever your energies are !!!
We will meet again and catch up . I am spending as much time as I can with your cousins and wishing for the opportunity to do the same with Sara.
Love you always,

Indira atluri

Happy Birthday, darling Tara.

I’ve dreamt of you once. We were together as a family—talking, laughing, eating. As a family now, we carry you in our hearts, a pulse of everything you were. Your sister graduated from highschool last month and is off to an amazing university. You would be so proud of her. Your little cousin said today, “I want a pet python.” You would have gotten along so well. There is no way to make sense of you being gone. So we carry on missing you and cherishing all that you gave us. I hope you are dancing among the stars. Sending you infinite love.

Ann Yee Mah

Ann Yee Mah

Hey Tara

I started a new series in my painting class about fishes. And one of them looked like the one you made in high school that I really liked. (The one that I wanted to take 🫡) Honestly it could have just been a coincidence but my friend asked me if I accidentally took someone else’s canvas cuz your name was written on wood on the back that I never noticed before. It was really funny cuz of the time our paintings once got mistook each others and I think about it a lot. I miss seeing your new paintings and little stickers. I found my sketchbook finally that had them and now the cats live right next to my little plant on my bookshelf. It’s not the one from high school but I will assure u I WILL KEEP THIS ONE ALIve! I show a picture once I’m done with it but god knows how long that’s ganna take. I miss you a lot!!

Your friend


Happy year of the Rabbit, Tara! We celebrated last night at Friends Seminary’s annual LNY celebration. This is the 32nd year, can you believe it? It was my first year attending as a parent. I remember how you all sang at the event when you were in middle school. It has always been a lively event.

I wish Vincent and Alice had an opportunity to know you. I remember joking with you about how you and Sara would be my best future babysitters. The kids would have loved your energy, curiosity, creativity and the wealth of knowledge you had. This year modern Lang and visual arts created our own red Envelope show, each student from 5-12 designed their own 🧧! It was really great.

I think of you often and miss you dearly. Please watch over us, so many things remind me of you.


Dear Tara,

I miss you. A whole year has gone by, it seems in just a blink of an eye. I think of you frequently in the hallways of Friends, every time I see someone wearing a blue knitted hat, I think and i hoped that I would see your face. It’s my 9th year teaching there, can you believe it? Our son, Vincent is now attending Kindergarten at Friends, he is class of 2035. Friends has become such a special place, and you will always be connected to it. There’s a lot of change every year, but the soul of the community lives in the hearts of everyone. I really feel a sense of community there. I feel valued. I really owe it all to knowing you and your family. I also think of you whenever i’m tending to my little plant collection, I’m trying to collect different pothos plants, there are so many varieties, I even got clippings from colleagues at work, I currently have a neon, jade, and golden variety. During COVID Andrew built some shelves on a wall and made it a plant wall for me. I miss you. I can still hear you calling me “linlaoshi” and I still have some of your hand written work from class. I will treasure them and you will always be remembered by us. I hope you are at peace, we love you Tara. – Lynn, Andrew, Vincent & Alice

Lin Laoshi

For Tara


Tara’s honey and bees
October 2022


Hi sweetheart, it’s dad. Happy birthday, buddy! The Abyssinian cats you stuck me with are thriving. Abbadon keeps finding ways to escape the apartment. Rhadamanthus grappled with a deadly feline virus but is now robust and playful. I triple-circumambulated most of our favorite spots in Central Park, except for our super-secret spot, where I’ll go later today.

I’ve been on many harrowing and beautiful inward journeys since you left. You were always with me and always will be. I’m grateful to you for bringing me to a place where I could finally heal myself. I thought you would be my finest work of art; perhaps I’ll be yours.

Your sister and mom are ok, afaict. Eris and Theia and Shakespeare are good too, but I always have the feeling that Theia is waiting for you to walk in the door.

I bought a beautiful sculpture of the Buddhist goddess Green Tara from artisans in Kathmandu! It arrived today, just in time for your 20th birthday. Since you were named after her, it’s fitting that your leaving brought me to her.

(Remember when I tricked you into doing those mindfulness meditation retreats? You were so mad at me afterwards. Hahaha! I’m pretty sure it was good for you though.)

I’m going to meditate every day with Green Tara. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tara_(Buddhism)

See you on the other side, babycakes! But not today 😉

Love, Dad

Pradeep Atluri

Dear Tara,

It’s midnight. I’m sitting under the supermoon, the biggest and brightest of the year, lighting the sky on your birthday. How appropriate, my stardust niece. What would I have given you this year? When you were little, you begged for a preserved baby shark floating in a jar. Instead I sent you a book about rescuing hummingbirds. Or maybe it was a piece of glassy green moldavite. One July you visited me, we walked through the ravine collecting wildflowers. You taught me that a butterfly drinks nectar with its proboscis. Now blooms of forget-me-nots dot the path. How could I forget? Every day is the joy of knowing you, the pain of losing you. A few months ago, Chinese cave explorers found a primeval forest in a sinkhole. I imagine you peering up at the 130-foot tall ancient trees. I wish you were here to blow out the candles. I miss you.

Ann Yee Mah

Ann Lau

Dear Tara,

Your bees arrived today. I got you a beekeeping kit for your last Christmas in 2020 and I remember how excited you were to get a hive going. I’m so sorry we missed the window to order bees for spring 2021. This year was going to be our first year keeping bees, with you as the Project Director and me as the technician, as our arrangement always was. Did you forget about this, and all the other things you planned to do?

It was tragic and wonderful and lonely all at once tonight when I had to tip the mass of little humming honeybees into the hive without you. I know you were looking forward to this moment, and I am sure you would have loved all of it: how the postman delivers the noisy and terrifying swarm in a clearly marked perforated crate; how the bee food is formed into cakes that smell sweet and waxy; how the hive tools appear to be both specific and arcane; how the straggler bees line up at the door of the hive like children late for school.

I hope you are going to look out for this little group of creatures. I’m not sure I succeeded in getting the queen bee into the hive. It was hard for me to manipulate her tiny cage with my fingers in the beekeeping gloves. I’m sure you would have found a better way to do it. Maybe you would have been brave enough to take your gloves off. It is very hard do anything without you. I miss you every second of every day, my Angel.

Love Forever,


Dear Tara,
I’m not even sure where to start in this letter. I’m on the train right now. I’m passing by Times Square and every single time I pass by this stop I cry. I can’t look at those benches without seeing your face. I keep seeing us sitting together with Butter the banana plant on my lap. The last time I heard your voice in person we were sitting there and you were talking about dicots and monocots and how it’s actually not that binary and I was so freaking confused but I kept listening because to me it was the coolest thing that you knew so much stuff. I asked you so many questions about it because I wanted to know. I wanted to understand. I wanted to hear everything you had to say. I still do. I spend a lot of time in my dreams hanging out with you. I read your letters and I keep them next to my pillow a lot. I tell my students about you and how much you love learning. They think you’re pretty cool. The plants I have from you are also doing great. Butter is getting taller, Jellybean re-sprouted and grew another leaf, and Tom is growing exponentially. Tar/Mar is healthy too. She’s getting so big and strong. She’s even strong enough to escape her tank now. I had to tie down the ends of the tank cover so she wouldn’t fall out. I also have so many memes for you. And frog pictures. I wish you could see them but knowing you they’re probably pretty bad compared to the memes you would find first. Anyway, point being I miss you. The world looks a lot different now bud. From both inside my brain and out.

Ron Mandal

Hi Tara,
I went to my second Karate tournament today and thought of you. I won grand championship in forms 🙂 You texted me at the first one, inviting me to Kate’s for dinner. I wish I could have gone with you that time. I go to Kate’s for dinner a lot now (I have to take a Benadryl for the cats!). We miss you a lot.
Love always <3


Tara d one of my fvorite students at Fiorello H.LaGuardia High School. She had a purity of spirit and intellect which was unmatched by her peers. She was hard working, sensitive, and beautiful in the clarity of her thought process. I retired a year before she graduated and gave her my number and email so that we could keep in touch. I did not hear from her. Through the alumni and friends, I contacted her at Cornell,and she wrote me a long email reflecting her confusions and despair. I never knew all this was boiling inside of her. She masked it with pristineness. A faculty member at LaGuardia alerted me to her death. I am still processing it. How could such a beautiful person suffer so much? The sadness of it all is overwhelming.

Barbara Rowes

Hi, little Angel,

I brought in your Surinam cherry tree for the winter. It has been producing beautiful strings of white flowers for weeks and, improbably, there’s a single fruit on one branch. I wish you could see it.

I know you would like to get all of the news about your plants and your dogs and your family. We missed you at Christmas, at Lunar New Year, on Valentine’s Day. Soon it will be Easter. I remember all of the things we enjoyed making together to celebrate these holidays.

I remember how our home was full of your projects, experiments, art, writing, music, and a constant stream of your friends. It is very quiet now. I think of you every moment, but especially when I see something funny or beautiful or noteworthy. Sometimes I find you in my dreams so that I can talk to you.

If you come home, we can have another good conversation, or take care of the bogs you made for the roof garden, or cook something delicious together. There is so much left for us to do. I promise to prepare a hundred Easter eggs for you to paint.

Endless Love,


Tara – although the time we spent together was brief, we instantly had a connection. While sharing your passions and dreams we bonded. Your sweetness and kindness radiated from your smile. My condolences to your family and friends, Rest In Peace.


Dear Tara,

I looked forward to Thanksgivings when I would see you and your family. I loved hearing about your life, your school, your love for plants, and especially about your art. I remember one particular time when you told me about a plant you were documenting for school, and it was so beautiful and interesting (It had to do with fruit flies!). Although we only crossed paths a couple of times you were such a beautiful, kind soul, and you will be missed.
May you Rest In Peace.

Karuna Prasad

Dear Tara,

I have so many memories with Tara during our elementary school days. The sleepovers, the play dates, catching caterpillars at Columbus park and taking them home to see if they would grow into a butterfly, and more. Those memories I cherish the most. I wish I came to see you dance in high school and kept in touch with you. I hope you’ve accomplished a lot and Rest In Peace with everything that you love.

Lauren Lee

I met Tara when she was 9. I was her babysitter and would pick her up from school at Friends Seminary, escort her to play practices and swimming lessons,and watch in awe as she plowed through college-level literature. I helped her search for mice in bushes and held her on my lap in taxi cabs while we shrieked with laughter. She had an apartness from other children; she operated on a different wavelength. Her way of seeing and understanding the world was different and beautiful, and she was unflinchingly brave. I am one of several young women who helped look after Tara and Sara, and over the years we’ve reminisced on our moments taking care of them, always remarking on Tara’s brilliance and devotion to her passions. Each of us has their own stories about her. I stumbled upon this page because she came into my mind, as she has often over the years. Sharing this news with Tara’s other babysitters, all of us in our thirties and still friends, has laid over us a blanket of emotion and sorrow. Tara has remained in all of our consciousnesses so clearly, a decade later, and each of us loved her. We are thinking of Rern and Pradeep and Sara, and telling stories of Tara.

Olivia Salomon

I have so many memories of baking, sleepovers, and doing crafts with you in middle school. I remember one time your mom took us to a weaving studio and you were so fast and made a beautiful piece of fabric. I wish we had kept in touch in high school. I hope wherever you are there are unlimited skeins yarn, fancy pens and craft tape.

With love,


Today one of my succulents started to flower, and it reminded me of you. Missing your smile and brilliance in the lab.

Chelsea Specht

You are my favorite student forever. We miss your smiling.

FoSu Chen

Here is a drawing I did of Tara. I miss her more everyday.

Ron Mandal

Tara took my class this past semester in Poetry and Mathematics and proved to be among the most creative, vibrant thinkers in the group. Stunned and saddened to learn of her passing, I spent the day of our last class reading back over the work she’d produced so far and sat in awe of the wit and daring on every page. I spent the entirety of the final class showing Tara’s illustrations and her first essay to the group so that they could see how much she had to teach us all about how to end the semester and how to think about endings.

Tara’s essay was about the way the hyacinth plant grows and decays, the way the “terminal” bud receives all the sustenance of the ones that spiraled up to it on the stalk. She used the plant’s morphology as a way to talk about a long poem that, as she did in her work too, sings ideas of growth and change from the biology of plants. But she also used the hyancinth to warn about how “we, the terminally blooming,” can be blind to the devastation below us and the ecological damages we inflict on myriad other species that have given us the position of coming last, of being “terminal.”

Tara had given permission to share her work earlier in the term; I didn’t expect it to be in a context like this one, but many of the students let me know they appreciated the chance to encounter her work and thought — to see our class as a whole, at last, through the things one of their classmates cared about and was actively thinking through. My heart goes out to Tara’s loved ones, family, friends. Having spent just a few lucky months with Tara in class, I can only imagine the magnitude of your grief and can only hint at the overwhelming love of the world that you can see in every line she drew and wrote.


Hey Tara!

I remember meeting you through our shared friends. I remember showing you Paganini when we had that music night. I remember the conversations we all had and the laughs we all shared. I remember editing your photos for you, and being completely fascinated by your dice collection. I remember seeing your art and saying out loud, “wow.” I remember so much, more than can I express here in this letter.

And I remember who you are. Who you still are. You may be beyond what us little people here on this Earth can see or feel, but you are still with us evermore. Your memory will never fade within us, nor will it deteriorate, nor lose its color. In the little things that remind us of you, and call back to you, that color will grow ever vibrant.

Although we may have only been friends through friends, I think that’s all we people can be on the face of this grand world. Friends of friends. That shouldn’t stop us further from you from shedding tears and grieving for you.

You are still here with us, in the flowers that spring up from the ground, in the rattling sounds of the dice, the chirping of the birds, and the movements of all creatures microscopic and large. What is there that you were not so talented in?

Thank you for letting our paths cross, even if for so short a time. Now your path diverges, but I know it runs near the rest of ours.

– Michael

Michael Calle

Tara was one of my three best friends in the entire world. I don’t know where to begin she just was majorly inspiring to me and so kind and her art blows my mind. We met in highschool when I was at my lowest point ever. She helped me through my time in therapy and through placement facility after placement facility. She sent me these beautiful dice that I used to play Dungeons and Dragons and now I use those same dice to educate the children I teach. She was also so so freaking smart. I always told her I was jealous of how smart she was. And I thought it was so cool that she had so many plants (400 plants). And I love that she always painted these super colorful flora and fauna, especially the dead fish. Also her memes were soooo good. I always wondered how she got them because they were always so quality and so relatable. She gave me a plant for my house one time. I wish I could have more of her plants 🙂 thank you Tara for being there for me when I couldn’t be there for myself. I hope you have found peace.
Ps: she also gave me funds to buy my turtle. Her name was Mar but I think Tara is far more fitting. I will always remember you through this turtle, she’s been so amazing to interact with and to care for. Thank you :)))

Ron Mandal

With much love from both of us.

Valerie McEvoy and Steve Townsend

Pradeep and Rern and family,

Tara was clearly loved. I am sorry for your indescribable loss. We are thinking of you and your families.

David Chen

I will never forget the first time I met you. We were celebrating your Aunt Josephine’s graduation from the Culinary Institute of America and I hadn’t yet had a chance to be in the same city as you. But in you came in your parents arms with two little pigtails sticking straight up because of your short straight hair. Your presence and squeals of laughter made the whole dining experience even more joyful. I know I didn’t see you often and I’m that pretend relative you’ve known since you were born but know that I love you and will hold all my memories of you (especially the first one) tightly.


I took Insect Biology this semester and I was always looking for bugs to complete my collection, which was my final project and most of my grade. Whenever Tara found an insect, she’d send me a picture and ask: “Do you want him?” A good chunk of my collection is insects she caught me. I’m honestly amazed and honored that she thought of me so often. Tara, you beautiful girl, you probably got me an A. Love always, Jules.

Jules Hue-Ping Hart

I was first introduced to Tara though an email that captured my attention. A 2nd year High School student who was – in her words – obsessed with plants and wanted nothing more than to come to Cornell to study. She included a statement that detailed why she wanted to study plants; from her exposure in India to Mimosa pudica which turned into a full fledged research project, to her visits to her grandparents where she would help prune and weed their backyard garden, to her interest in cacti and succulents that prompted her to develop her deep and precocious thoughts about how “understanding plants and their myriad adaptations will lead to our ability to adapt to environmental changes.” She attached this picture of her trip to Joshua Tree where she was inspired by the desert landscape. She attached her award-winning photo of Sedum dasyphyllum var. major and wrote “this close-up demonstrates the epidermal water storage vesicles. At least I think that’s what’s going on in the photo.” And she talked about her treasured copy of Esau’s Plant Anatomy, a book that only a true botanist could love. I should say that throughout the message, italics and capitalization were appropriately used to refer to species names in a way that you don’t often see among accomplished professionals. My first thought was to introduce her to one of my colleagues at the NY Botanical Garden, but she was determined to come to Ithaca and study in an environment that provided “a pleasant counterpoint to the concrete of Manhattan”. She asked for advice on what she could do during her 11th and 12th grade years that would make her a competitive applicant to Cornell, not realizing that everything she had just written in her email already indicated how perfect she was for Cornell and how perfectly she would integrate into our programs. I was in the field the first summer she spent in the herbarium of the LH Bailey Hortorium, however I returned to find her happily ensconced in the collections, being guided through an internship that Dr. Kevin Nixon created explicitly so she could join as a HS student. As the youngest participant, she by far the most knowledgeable and the most eager to learn anything and everything about plants; in the field, in the herbarium, in the laboratory and in the classroom. Since coming to Cornell as an undergraduate, it has been a true pleasure to experience Tara’s work; whether art, poetry, mastery of languages, or science. She got the most out of every class, diving into each assignment not to get a grade but to extract the most joy, knowledge, and beauty from each page she generated, be it painting or prose. Her work in my lab is nothing short of brilliant, her participation in meetings always bringing new insights that seemed to come from a place of wisdom well beyond her years. I was looking forward to having her as a colleague, as there was never any doubt in my mind that she would follow an academic path and one day teach, mentor, and conduct research that enabled her to continue exploring the natural world and share her discoveries with others. It was an honor and privilege to teach and mentor Tara; I am forever grateful for the time I shared with her. I know we all wish we had many, many more years to explore the world by her side.

Chelsea Specht

Tara was my grandniece .
In my memory , Tara was a beautiful lovely girl with a gentle nature and wistful smiles . She was a quiet girl when she visited Singapore at age 12 but what she did not expressed verbally she was able to express vividly in her drawings . Her power of observation was amazing as what appeared ordinary to us , she could see the extraordinary . We went to the market in Singapore and she came back and painted hundreds of eggs that were sitting on the tabletop waiting to be sold with the expressive face of the stall keeper ! She saw a man taking 40 winks , lying on the pavement next to a wall and that captured her attention and she painted that very ordinary scene . What we would usually not notice, , she saw and could expressed in fine detail and sensitivity in her paintings. She could see people as real people !
She had talent with a soul !

Her passion was also displayed in her love for food ……. I can see the glee in her sparkling eyes and in her wide smile when a plate of shaved ice with syrup and ice cream topping ( a local favourite in Singapore ) was placed in front of her !

In her short life , she had brought tremendous joy to those who loved her . She would be sadly missed but the happy memories of her would be forever cherished in the hearts of those who have known her and love her !

Lau Siew San

My dearest Tara – you will be missed so so much! I loved your bright personality. I’ll always cherish the beautiful memories we made in swimming class together. My deepest condolences to the entire family.


You were probably seven years old the last time I saw you with your parents, but I liked the idea that somebody like you existed in that every year or two I would be asked to up my game with textbook recommendations and knowledge of succulents. I had always half assumed that those questions were coming more from projecting parents than an actual 10 or 12 year old, but—now that I’ve seen your art and photos and its specificity—nope, that was all you. We are all given the world; it is remarkable how much you saw it.

Kevin Boyce

To Tara’s family:

My name is Vajira Wijesinghe, a teacher at LaGuardia High School, I was Tara’s AP Biology teacher in 2019-2020. Tara was an exceptional student of outstanding academic ability. She was also my class monitor for both semesters. I described her to my colleagues as my right hand and my left hand! If we had been in college and I was the professor Tara would have been my Teaching Assistant. Every morning she reminded me of upcoming class assignments, announcements I needed to make, various reminders to students, reminders to me to return graded student work, notices about morning subway delays, as well as new developments in the school to keep me updated. I came to rely so much on Tara’s assistance that when, for example, a student inquired about some work that needed to be returned to them I would direct the student to Tara. She was always calm and confident and discharged the responsibilities undertook with pride and integrity. I need hardly say that Tara played a key role in class discussions, offering solutions to questions that often eluded others. She was my go-to person for many day to day general issues of school life. Tara also took pride in baking delicious cookies for every special occasion at school, such as the holidays.

You will not need me to tell you that Tara was extremely intelligent. She was passionately interested in Biology. I saw a maturity in her far ahead of her age. She was utterly trustworthy and her sense of responsibility would have been remarkable in someone much older. As a gifted artist Tara produced original and very creative posters for her AP Biology class. Yesterday I came across one of the lab posters Tara had made and presented with her lab group which clearly shows the key role Tara played in this group assignment.

It was obvious to me that Tara would have a very bright and illustrious career as a Botanist or Biologist. She will be missed enormously by all those who were privileged to know her, especially those who knew her as a blossoming scientist.

I count it my great privilege to have been Tara’s teacher and to have known this extraordinary young lady. I cherish the time we spent together and the happy memories we shared. i am still unable to fully comprehend Tara’s departure from our company. If there is some way I can be of help please do not hesitate to let me know.

With my deepest sympathies,

Ms. Vajira Wijesinghe

Vajira Wijesinghe

One August day, you and I climbed a little half-mountain a mile away from my home (though when you were there you made it our home) in Massachusetts. The look of wonder on your face as our ascent through the birch forest ended and you looked down at the rolling, flowery meadow on the other side will never leave me. I remember traces of that look the next day, when we went to a bookstore and then an outdoor sculpture gallery by a river, and even the day after that, when we laid around and did nothing in particular beyond watching a movie. Almost anything could draw your interest, and the meanings you took from things that I thought didn’t warrant a second glance often blew me away. You were the most brilliant, most effortlessly compassionate person I have ever met, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the year we had together. You were the pillar that held me up, and I regret that I could never gather the words that would tell you how much you meant and still mean to me.

Alex M. Annenberg

Despite us not being close, you were one of the most caring and kind people I had ever met during my time at LaG. Your artistic talent was through the roof and I remember admiring each piece of artwork you put out. I remember being on Discord calls with you and our friends and that time where we all played truth or dare which somehow resulted in my fork flying out the window !!! You made sure that the people around you and that those you cared about were ok and that is something that I will always remember about you. I will always respect your love and passion for plants and I will always have a deep admiration for your talent and your artwork. While somedays I wish we were closer, I am humbled and honored to have known you in the time you were still with us. Rest easy, Tara. Your legacy lives on. 💙💙💙

Marco Chin

Tara and Kareena

Jayaprakash Namburi

Tara was incredibly selfless with a magical ability to help people regardless of how strange the task might be. She was so resourceful, kind, and creative. Tara stayed at our apartment during Fall Break and quickly learned of our fruit fly problem. She then used a permit to collect a pitcher plant which she needed for one of her classes and gifted (what she didn’t need of) it to us in hopes it would help with our fly problems (it didn’t but we have had a lot of fun taking care of the plant!). Her kindness, selflessness, and resourcefulness really had no end– she then helped me (for hours) find special fishing line that I needed for a research project… she even called up her grandpa and put me on the phone with him and her contribution helped make the project super successful! A month later she sent me a screenshot: she was still getting targeted no-stretch extra-strong fishing line ads :). She was brilliant and so, so kind. A few weeks ago my friend needed a flea for their insect collection (I told the friend they were a bit SOL, they had already contacted many vets a few months back and the project was due a few days later), but somehow, Tara of course managed to get my friend a flea! It didn’t matter what the task was, Tara was always so ready to help her friends and those around her and was unbelievably outgoing, considerate, and creative. Her kindness really had no end. She knew that her dog/snake pics made me smile so she sometimes sent me photos, one of which I have attached above. She is dearly missed.

Jenna Ceraso

I looked forward everyday to Tara’s funny posts on her Instagram stories. She and my son, Ethan, were very close in middle school at Friends Seminary and I began following her account at that time as we were both artists. It was so wonderful to follow her trajectory and see how far she had advanced in her art and studies. I went to Cornell so we had that in common as well. Her loss is a blow to us all but her memory is so beautifully captured in this tribute. ~Kim

Kim Hall

Aria, I will never forget your 7th Grade (!) Science Night Project on Mimosa pudica. It was so thorough and detailed, and it really stands out from all the rest in my memory. You had obvious passion for the topic.
And you were so thoughtful and fearless in the Advisory video project we did– the star! None of my other advisories ever did something like that, and I will keep you in my memory always.
I have been holding you and your family in the light. I miss you; the world will miss you! I pray that now you are somewhere surrounded by green, growing, delightful plants.

Penney Peterson

Tara, You made the lab brighter with your iconic smile, even when it was hidden behind a mask. Your precision and passion came through in your work; you solved problems, discovered patterns, and found joy in the plants and people that surrounded you. We all learned from you, whether it was how to pronounce words using Old Norse or how to create an herbarium specimen that reflected the growth form and essential life of the plant. You went out of your way to help others, to learn, to push your growth edges in every direction. Your legacy lives on in your art, your poetry, your science and your friendship. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your brilliant journey. We miss you.

Specht Lab

I am so blessed to have been your teacher during your freshman year at Fiorello Laguardia. I will always cherish the little hats you made me for my bird Pasquale after I brought him in for a drawing lesson. You were such a thoughtful, and talented student. Your iconic turquoise hat from your very first day at Lag, your kindness and amazing artwork, you were just always on point and went above and beyond in your artwork. I loved having the opportunity and privilege to teach such a beautiful soul. I will continue to share images of Tara’a artwork to my students to keep her memory and impact on Art at Laguardia.

Casandra Maniotis

I consider myself so lucky to have worked with Tara at LaGuardia during her sophomore year. She stands out in my mind as one of the kindest, genuine, hardworking, and inventive young artists that I have ever taught.

I continue to share her work with my current students because of the exemplary ways that she approached every prompt. Tara’s technical skill and ability was proof of her dedication and passion.

Gretchen Schwarz


You are truly one of the most kind, talented, and vibrant people I have ever known. Your vibrance lit up every room you entered. I wish I could’ve gotten to know you better, but the times that you were in my life you brought so much joy. The sleepovers we had at your house are some of my foundational memories. You brought happiness to the people I care most about in the world and for that I am immeasurably grateful. Your art and your passion for the things you cared about have been inspiring me since I first met you. One time when we were over at your house, you had a virtual dance lesson and you didn’t cancel it. So we joined in. You were better than all of us, and we were mostly doing it for jokes, but still you encouraged us and didn’t make fun of our mess-ups. I miss you, Tara. I wish I could see you again. Thank you for everything.

Georgia Saul

You were always a pleasure to know around and such a passionate person who really cared about everything you did. I really wish we could have got to know each other better and I really will miss you. Thanks for being exactly the kind, passionate, and caring person that you are.

Jerry Wang

I treasure those beautiful stickers you gave to me one year – I do not have the heart to peel the backs off a single one and I hoard them even now. Your brilliance and talent always shone through each piece of art you made and you made others feel like they were also walking through an enchanted forest with you. Thank you for being a wonderful student and person. Thank you for letting me walk part of the way with you Tara.

Yeon Ji Park

You were nothing but a kind and pleasant person to everyone around you. Whenever you were at a hangout, I knew there would always be a new interesting topic since you were such a unique person with some really cool interests. I will miss you, your plants will be safe.

Tobi Alade

We loved Tara, treasure the time we spent with her, and are grateful for the joy she brought to Alex. Tara was an amazing, talented and kind person. We will miss her and the beauty she brought to the world. Amazing wildflower arrangements for our dinners together were just one of the many ways she made our lives richer.

Matthew and Krista Annenberg

Tara, You were one of the most kind, intelligent, hard working people I ever knew. You always put others before you, and I wish you realized just how humble you really were. Your art astounded me, and looked like it belonged in an actual textbook. Your interest and dedication to your studies was amazing. I loved how when you started talking about something you were learning, you could just go on and on about it. I know few people that were as interested in their studies as you were.
Our conversations on Instagram discussing the memes we posted were the highlights of my day. I often posted a meme to my story just because I thought you would like it.
You were an amazing person Tara, and my only regret is that I didn’t get to know you more.

Michael Fragano


You were a brilliant person and an amazing friend. I’m going to miss you so much. I am so glad I had the chance to meet you and live with you. Thank you so much for all the times you cooked for me, for when you thought to give me cold medicine when I was sick, when you just sat with me with a pot of tea after a tough day of class. You were really just so kind. I enjoyed your presence in my life so much. Your art was amazing, and you were a great scientist. Words cannot express how touched I was when you gave me a plant based on my name. I thought it was super funny and on brand when you then confiscated that plant after I started accidentally killing it (sorry!). I wish we had more time to make memories, but I can’t help to be thankful for the time we did get together. Thank you so much for everything. Sending love and best wishes to you now.

Lucian Chang

Even though we weren’t very close, you’d always seemed like the type of art major who excelled in academics and was even more talented in fine arts. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of the passion and hard work you put into your work. You also had a great sense of humor. Every time I’d look at your Instagram story there’d be an unending stream of memes, and every one of them would brighten my day. I still find myself looking for your daily Instagram stories every now and then. I was lucky to meet someone as bright, talented, and funny as you.

Benjamin Ciufo

We were in a group in dance class together in freshmen year at lag. We were assigned to choreograph a dance. Tara, being creative as she was, created the dance to “Drive” by Oh Wonder, a song we both enjoyed. She would replay the song, interpreted some more, and add new steps to the dance. Tara did this cool hand movement that resembled bird wings– she glided with them.

Hi Tara, it was always delightful to catch glimpses of your artwork in Ms.Curiale’s class. You were brilliant and I hope you know that your classmates were inspired by you.

Stephanie Gonzalez


It brightened my day when we complimented each other’s bread(making) and when we randomly had a long, thoughtful conversation on the final of Loki even though it was our first time talking about Marvel together. I realized I looked forward to the abundance of funny, quirky, and weird memes you posted on your Insta stories almost every day. Your intelligence & passion for nature and plants was always inspiring and your beautiful, vibrant paintings always amazed the heck out of me.

I still can’t process that I won’t ever see your iconic turquoise crocheted hat that always let me know it’s you from far away. You were one of those people that I never got to talk to too much but I had always hoped we could because I could tell you are a cool soul. I’m grateful that I knew you and got to talk to you even if it was little. I miss you already.

Emily Mogami

Tara was an amazing student and brightened the classroom with her presence, her intellectual curiosity, and her deep kindness to everyone. I always looked forward to grading her work. Even in 5th and 6th grade, her writing was sophisticated, nuanced, and full of surprising ideas. I still remember an incredible mythical story she wrote, though she surpassed the page limit by about 25 pages. Tara also took the time to make scrapbooks for many of her teachers to give to us at the end of the year. She had her classmates write notes to us, took their pictures, and put the beautiful books together herself. I am so grateful that I got to teach her for two years.

Craig Saslow

Two things stand out: (1) Tara loved math challenges, (2) she was influential in putting together a pictures-journal of her homeroom from the year in fifth grade math, given to me on the last day of class.

Larry Carter

Tara was a dedicated scientist, a skilled artist, and a truly amazing friend. On the last project she and Kate and I worked on, she drew the life cycle of Kalanchoe spp. (Mother-of-Millions). It’s a breath-taking work of art. Tara, I love you beyond words and miss you every day.

Jules Hue-Ping Hart

Tara, you are a beautiful soul. I enjoyed spending time with you. Whether it was studying Chinese, chatting about art, family, school. Spending time with you and Sara were a blessing and something I looked forward to weekly. I hope you are at peace. Please know that I will always remember you in my heart and you will be dearly dearly missed.


Lynn Lin

We love and miss Tara so much, and cannot even begin to imagine your loss. We will remember with gratitude how she touched our lives.

Friends at the Plant Sciences Department