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OU community remembers Daniel Holland after death in Berlin

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Daniel Holland

OU senior Daniel Holland died while studying abroad in Berlin this past summer. 

Daniel Holland was many things to his friends and family: charismatic, wise, caring, inquisitive. The OU student died Sunday while swimming in the Spree River in Berlin, leaving a campus mourning in his wake.

Daniel, a native of McKinney, Texas, was involved in various on-campus activities and groups. He was an international studies and constitutional studies senior at OU, as well as a member of the OU College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Scholars. Daniel also interned in the state Senate. The 20-year-old was open-minded, friendly and loved to discuss politics.

At the news of Daniel’s death, support poured in from the university community, many of whom were affected by his death.

"Our deepest sympathy and prayers are with Daniel Holland's family and loved ones during this very difficult time," OU President David Boren said in a statement. 

OU Honors College Dean David Ray spoke highly of Daniel and the impact he had on the honors college.

“Daniel Holland was a great good citizen of the Honors College and an active leader on the executive board of our Informed Citizens Discussion Group," Ray said. "Daniel was truly a brilliant, articulate, profoundly decent, and deeply idealistic young man, and this tragedy is heart-breaking. All of us in the Honors College who had the privilege of working with Daniel send our deepest sympathy to his family and his many close friends at OU. It is with a heavy heart that we send our thoughts and prayers to his family and also to his wonderful friends who made him laugh and filled his life with joy and passion.”

SGA President J.D. Baker met Daniel when they both received the Outstanding Freshman Award, and they had been friends ever since. Baker said Daniel was fun, with a charismatic spirit that was contagious.

Baker said that Daniel was inquisitive, with an “intellectual thirst.” He often had conversations with people of different political views than his own to broaden his mind, Baker said. Daniel didn’t always accept popular opinion, instead opting to form his own worldviews. 

“He knew what he believed,” Baker said in a phone interview.

Seyedalireza Sajadian is another student whose life was touched by Daniel. They met in a political science class and often talked about world politics. Daniel wouldn’t tell you that you were wrong to have a certain view on a subject, which made him easy to talk politics with, Sajadian said. Sajadian loved learning from Daniel and listening to his varying views. 

Dylan Rodolf met Daniel through the Crimson Club and the two studied abroad together through the College of Arts and Sciences earlier this summer. Rodolf said that Daniel was passionately curious — an intellectual with varying interests.

"Daniel could talk on just about any subject ranging from international politics to Stanley Kubrick films,” Rodolf said. “He was never complacent with his scope of knowledge, but rather always strived to learn more in an effort to better himself and his peers."

Daniel’s relentless pursuit of knowledge led him to pursue numerous passions. He was a lover of music, movies, history and Wes Anderson movies, as well as a wide variety of literature, Rodolf said. Daniel planned to become a war correspondent for a major news outlet, according to Rodolf.

Daniel’s father, Seraphim Holland, said that he and Daniel’s mother were heading to Berlin to retrieve Daniel’s body.

“My wife, Christina and I are going to Berlin tomorrow after liturgy,” Seraphim Holland wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “Pray for the repose of the (soul) of my son Daniel, who drowned while swimming in a river in Berlin.” 


There is currently no information about Daniel’s service.

Update: Daniel Holland's funeral was Friday, June 23. 

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