‘Gave a lot of love’: Student, aspiring nurse Kelli Zachery dies at 27

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Berkeley resident and Berkeley City College student Kelli Zachery was killed in a bus collision Thursday. She was 27.

Zachery was born in Oakland on Jan. 11, 1991, as an only child. Family members described Zachery as a vibrant and bubbly individual who brought joy to those around her throughout her life. Zachery was a “precious baby and wonderful daughter,” according to her mother Carla Cleveland.

With two brothers, two stepsisters and a host of cousins and other relatives, family was an essential part of Zachery’s life. “She gave a lot of love; she was all about family. She loved family and friends,” Cleveland said.

As a child, Zachery loved to dress up — especially in high heels. She enjoyed reading, riding her bicycle, dancing and listening to music. Zachery was willing to listen to people and provide advice, according to Cleveland.

As an adolescent, Zachery spent the majority of her time with her mother in Tracy, California attending Merrill F. West High School. During the weekends, she commuted to the Berkeley area to visit her father.

After graduating from West High, Zachery received an associate’s degree in medical assisting from Heald College. “Nursing was Kelli’s dream,” said her father, Kelvin Zachery.

Zachery then began working at the IRS customer service center and taking classes at both Berkeley City College and Merritt City College. At the IRS customer service center, Zachery’s vibrant personality came forth and she was noted to be an encouraging and motivating teammate, according to Cleveland.

Zachery was working to meet the admission requirements of the Samuel Merritt Nursing Program, where she planned to further her education and career. At the time of her death, Zachery was five classes short of meeting these admission requirements.

“(She was a) sweet, sweet person,” Cleveland said.

Contact Jarrett Visher at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Jarrett_Visher.

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