Derrick Griffith
 Medgar Evers College

Derrick Griffith, a 42-year-old doctoral student and dean of student affairs at Medgar Evers College in New York City, was one of seven individuals who died Monday night when an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, PIX11 reports.

Griffith had just defended his dissertation in urban education one month prior at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College and was getting ready to graduate at the end of the month.

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Medgar Evers College President Rudy Crew praised Griffith’s work and his dedication to his students. “There could not be a finer educator,” Crew said in a statement. “He was an outstanding and very distinguished person who guided many, many students at Medgar Evers since 2011, and finished his Ph.D. about a month ago and was really the source of tremendous motivation for all [of] us in one form or another; he did so much for the students.”

Griffith created a program to help high school dropouts prepare for and gain admission to college. He wrote about the endeavor on his Facebook page and described the important role that city colleges play in that effort.

“I have [been] and continue to be moved by countless numbers of students who have reconnected to higher education as the direct result of enrolling in CUNY Prep. We know that students who disconnect from traditional school systems are most likely to seek alternate pathways to high school completion,” Griffith wrote.

Griffith is survived by his son and mother.

Read more at PIX11.