Even though Oeshae Morgan was thousands of miles away working as a marketing intern in Spain, her family planned to hold a small celebration for her 21st birthday.
But what should have been a time for her family to relish the life of a young woman who grew up in Washington, D.C., and was just about to begin her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, instead turned into an observance of a life cut tragically short.
Nicole Morgan said news of her niece's death came Friday and devastated the family. "It was disbelief, shock, hoping that it was wrong, that there was a mistake made," she said.
Although there are few details about the circumstances that led to her death, Karen Williamson, Ms. Morgan's grandmother, said her body was found in the courtyard where she lived and that it was an accident.
Ms. Morgan was an economics and political science double-major who was participating in the College of Business Administration's international internship program, which sent students this summer to Beijing, Berlin, Madrid, Milan, Santiago and Sao Paulo, according to the school's website.
It was her second time studying abroad -- she went to London last summer. She's the only student in Pitt history to die while participating in a university-sponsored study-abroad program, according to Pitt spokeswoman Cara Masset.
Family members said they were waiting for more information from Ms. Morgan's parents, who flew to Spain Tuesday, according to the deceased's aunt.
Spanish law enforcement officials are investigating, Ms. Masset said, adding that all information about Ms. Morgan's death would have to come from the State Department.
State Department officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Ms. Morgan's family described her as ambitious -- hoping to one day become a congresswoman -- and intensely spiritual.
"Her faith in God was a very strong -- strong aspect in her life," said Ms. Williamson.
Her aunt said Ms. Morgan loved talking about everything from politics to fashion and was a member of Pitt's debate team.
And despite her death, Ms. Morgan's parents decided to go ahead with a celebration her 21st birthday -- about 160 friends, family church members and classmates showed up. It was standing room only in her parents' house through the weekend, Ms.Williamson said.
"It was awesome, it was absolutely awesome."
Ms. Morgan is survived by her parents and two younger brothers, ages 10 and 14.
Alex Zimmerman: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-3909 and on Twitter: @AGZimmerman. First Published July 16, 2013 3:45 PM