UC Berkeley freshman Selam Sekuar dies at 19

Selam1

Selam Sekuar, a UC Berkeley freshman and international student from Ethiopia, was fatally struck by a train at the Downtown Berkeley BART Station on Nov. 25. She was 19.

Known for her warm personality and dedication to her studies, Sekuar was a MasterCard Foundation Scholar. The program provides financial and academic support for successful students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly those from sub-Saharan Africa. Studying in the College of Letters and Science, she aspired to pursue architecture and public health.

Sekuar was the scholar program’s first student from Ethiopia. To her peers within the Center for African Studies, which works closely with the scholar program, Sekuar had an infectious passion for a wide range of academic interests, from physics to premed studies.

“She was very bright and talented,” said Martha Saavedra, the center’s associate director. “There’s this notion that scientists aren’t interested in literature and art and things like that. I know that she had a full spectrum of appreciation for the world.”

Sekuar attended UC Berkeley’s Summer Bridge Program this year and was involved in the Horn of Africa Student Association. During the fall semester, she lived in Foothill as part of the Women in Science and Engineering theme housing program.

Within the small but tight-knit community of international students from Africa, Sekuar is remembered for her sense of humor and enthusiasm for all things Stephen Hawking. She was also an ardent fan of “The Big Bang Theory,” an American TV sitcom.

“She was always the bubbly one. When you saw her, she was always smiling, and she’d crack a joke or two,” said Munya Mahiya, a campus freshman and international student from Zimbabwe and fellow MasterCard Foundation Scholar. “Usually, I wouldn’t understand them because they were based on science and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ … but she was funny, and she was smart.”

Jessica Clarkson, program adviser for the scholar program in the Center for African Studies, said Sekuar was a compassionate and caring member of her community. Clarkson recounted how at a memorial service for her friend’s father, Sekuar comforted her friend and shared a poem about her own experience with losing her father.

Zerihun Feki, a UC Berkeley sophomore who is also from Ethiopia, echoed Clarkson’s sentiments, recalling how Sekuar helped his cousin with the process of applying to UC Berkeley.

“She helped (him) like it was her brother or sister. It goes to show how nice she was and how generous and willing (she was) to help wherever she could,” Feki, vice president of the Horn of Africa Student Association, said. “The whole community is hurt.”

The student association is set to meet Friday to discuss plans for commemorating Sekuar, including a memorial service.

Contact Alex Barreira at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @abarreira_dc.sue

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  • Guest

    No! You murdered her! Selam was raped and murdered at the UC Berkeley
    campus
    and had her vital organs removed at the hospital. Alex Barreira
    fabricated all the news just from the blue skies. Alex, the university
    admin and the police jointly murdered her!! The police created a fake
    report and CCTV images to fool everyone!!! But one thing you have
    forgotten is that we have also innocent Americans abroad who can also be
    victims in return!

  • Mak Cj

    R.I.P. MY DEEP CONDOLENCES TO HER FAMILY AND BELOVED ONES

  • Sympathies to the family but how do you fall in front of a bart train…

  • Mulubrhan Dagnew

    I was introduced by her untimely death, she was my close family. Her grandfather and my grandfather are brothers. But did not know , she live here in states. Her father was one of best and an accomplished military man.

    May your soul rest in peace, I wish i knew you before your suddene death.

  • Ufo

    So sad. My heart goes out to her family! I bet they never imagined her young life to be cut short by living in the USA. They worked hard to raise this wonderful girl & it must be heart breaking to learn about her death!

  • Ink Wells Rock

    If there is no God and no heaven then how can anyone be resting (in peace)? What is the “other side” if there is no God and that is all a lie to trick the masses? Do we just move to the next serial movie? The movie begins again in Rambo 30 or Diehard 18?

  • Alelign Aschale
  • Alelign Aschale

    There must have been some deliberation!!! We need more clarifications. She might have been a master “Big Bang”. We need clarity!!! I call up on all Ethiopians to join me for this Cause!!!

    • Ufo

      Oh really? You dont even have a clue as to what you are saying. Get a life! She is gone.

  • Binieam

    May God be with her and her family.

  • Adam Brown

    A terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to her family and friends.

  • HighRy

    Oh wow… I was on the train that hit her. I’m so happy I didn’t go to the front like everyone else did to see what we hit. Rest in peace fellow Bear.

    • Teboho Sefuthi

      Do you know how it happened?

    • Niat

      please do you know how it happened?

      • Guest

        Apparently she leapt into the path of an approaching train. I don’t think he would be able to tell you more than that.

        • Mattew Johnson

          No! You murdered her! Selam was raped and murdered at the UC Berkeley
          campus and had her vital organs removed at the hospital. Alex Barreira fabricated all the news just from the blue skies. Alex, the university admin and the police jointly murdered her!! The police created a fake report and CCTV images to fool everyone!!! But one thing you have forgotten is that we have also innocent Americans abroad who can also be victims in return!

    • Ink Wells Rock

      could be a folk song (and a protest movement)

    • Guest

      Liar! You murdered her! Selam was raped and murdered at the UC Berkeley
      campus
      and had her vital organs removed at the hospital. Alex Barreira
      fabricated all the news just from the blue skies. Alex, the university
      admin and the police jointly murdered her!! The police created a fake
      report and CCTV images to fool everyone!!! But one thing you have
      forgotten is that we have also innocent Americans abroad who can also be
      victims in return!

  • Icefire57

    Rest in peace Selam. Please be safe Golden Bears.

  • Icefire57

    Rest in peace Selam. Please be safe Golden Bears.

  • Icefire57

    Rest in peace Selam. Please be safe Golden Bears.

  • Big Mikey

    REST IN PEACE GIRL, FIND PEACE ON THE OTHER SIDE…