A 21-year-old student form the University of South Carolina was found dead early Thursday morning near the Tiber River in Rome, where she was studying abroad.
Karen M. Young had just started a semester-long program with other American students, taking courses in business, Italian, and media arts.
The cause of death was unclear, although initial medical examinations indicated she died of natural causes, according to a statement released by Franco Pavoncello, president of John Cabot University in Rome. An autopsy is being performed.
Her body was found several hundred yards from Ponte Sisto, near the university, according to Pavoncello's statement.
Young was remembered Saturday as a sociable, fashionable world traveler. ''She was very keen on fashion, and fashion trends,'' said her aunt, Jean Davis, in a phone interview from Young's parents' home in North Attleborough, Mass. ''She was a beautiful young lady.''
She played volleyball, was active in Young Life Christian fellowship programs, and yearned to travel, Davis said. ''She was well loved by everyone,'' she said. ''She will be missed.''
Young's family lived in Singapore for nearly two years while she was in middle school, and she vacationed in Spain, England, Australia, and places across the United States, Davis said.
She attended the University of South Carolina on an academic scholarship. She was in her junior year, majoring in accounting and finance and had dreams of becoming an international businesswoman.
Her father, Tom Young, was in Rome Saturday, awaiting his daughter's body.
''He will stay there until he brings her home,'' Davis said.
Pat Willer, the university's assistant vice provost for international programs, released a statement saying, ''We are deeply saddened by the death of Karen Young, who was a bright and ambitious student at the university. The South Carolina community extends it deepest sympathy to Karen's family and friends.''
Young's was the second death in two days at the Italian university. A soccer player at the school died the day before in a moped accident. Classes were canceled in light of the two deaths.