SALT LAKE CITY — Meghan Arnold was someone who not only enjoyed life to the fullest, but she also worked to improve the lives of millions of people in impoverished nations while pursuing a Ph.D. in public health from the University of Utah.
Those who knew her best spoke about her on Monday. Jim VanDerslice, associate professor of public health at the U of U, said Arnold’s death has deeply saddened those who knew her.
“It’s really a tragedy, all of us are just heartbroken that she’s gone,” he said.
VanDerslice said Arnold stood out among the other students he interacts with.
“We don’t have that many Ph.D. students, and a lot of them are really special, but Meghan became a really close friend,” he said.
Sharon Talboys, University of Utah associate director of public health work excellence, said Arnold fought hard for the causes she believed in.
“She lived her life with a sense of urgency,” Talboys said. “She was constantly pushing us to move our projects forward. She demonstrated incredible leadership.”
Arnold embraced the outdoor lifestyle after she moved to Utah from the Midwest. She taught skiing at Deer Valley, and she was an experienced ice climber.
VanDerslice said Arnold worked hard on earning her doctorate, which she hoped would help people in under-developed nations.
“She got really interested in issues with clean drinking water and sanitation,” he said. “She was working on a project to help people learn how to treat the water in their homes and then to keep it clean.”
Arnold spent her summers doing research and work in Ghana, India and Peru. Friends of Arnold said they are sad she is gone, but they are glad to have known her.
“She really was an extraordinary young woman,” VanDerslice said.”And she had such a future and promise for everything that she would be able to do working on some of these public health issues.”
There will be a celebration of Arnold’s life on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley.
Her family has also established a fund to create a scholarship in her name. A fund has been created in the name of “Meghan Arnold’s Smile” at Key Bank, Utah. Donations may be made by walking into any Key Bank branch and donating to her account or via electronic transfer, ACH or Fed Fund Wire using the routing number 124000737, or by check to the Salt Lake City Key Bank at 290 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84102.