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Contra Costa College student dies at 22, remembered for humor, confidence

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FEBRUARY 16, 2018

Shahzar Qureshi, a Contra Costa College student and Berkeley resident, died Saturday night. He was 22 years old.

According to his family, Shahzar Qureshi had a deep interest in technology, creative writing and his Islamic faith.

“He was trying to make a scholarly Muslim website with his friend,” said his older brother Sheharyar Qureshi. “He wanted people to learn about Islam and be educated about it.”

Shahzar Qureshi suffered from albinism, a visual disability compounded with a lack of pigment in skin, eyes and hair. His albinism necessitated the use of a cane and prescription glasses in the sun. Those close to him recall Qureshi never letting his disability prevent him from pursuing activities he enjoyed, such as skateboarding and photography, as can be seen on his Instagram.

A student of computer science, Shahzar Qureshi demonstrated a strong interest in cybersecurity, which he explored at his internship with Year Up, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide urban youth with skills and support to aid them in achieving their personal and professional goals.

“Shahzar was fiercely independent (and) determined to achieve success,” said Ellen Kimball, his teacher at Year Up, in an email. “(He) most of all had a sense of humor and sharp wit that made him a favorite with students and teachers alike.”

Fellow Year Up member Michael Truong said he remembered Qureshi as a “man with confidence” who brought joy and laughter to those around him.

On Saturday evening, at 7:49 p.m., a pedestrian was struck by a car on Interstate 880 near 29th Avenue. This pedestrian was later identified by the Alameda County coroner as Shahzar Qureshi.

Though the specific details of the incident are still undisclosed, Shahzar Qureshi’s family and friends gathered for a burial ceremony in Antioch on Wednesday. Shahzar Qureshi’s younger brother, Rafay Qureshi, asked for the family’s privacy to be respected during this time.

Sharjeel Laeeq, Shahzar Qureshi’s cousin, reflected on what he hopes people take away from this tragedy.

More than anything, Laeeq said he hopes Shahzar Qureshi’s story reminds people to “live life to the fullest despite challenges that may be present, just like he did,” Laeeq said.

Contact Janani Natarajan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jrnatarajan.

FEBRUARY 16, 2018