‘Immense presence’: UC Berkeley alumna Carol Major dies at 28

Flickr/Creative Commons
2017 Candlelight Vigil - Police Week

UC Berkeley alumna Carol Major died at age 28 after a fatal car crash in Santa Clara, California on Sunday, as first reported by Patch.

Allegedly, a stolen Honda Accord ran a red light and collided with the Lyft car Major was traveling in, according to the Patch article. Major, along with another passenger, was hospitalized for life-threatening injuries. Major died in the hospital due to her injuries.

Claudio Perez, who was driving the Honda Accord, was arrested by police on suspicion of murder, auto theft, driving under the influence while causing an injury, and a probation violation, according to the Patch article.

Major graduated from UC Berkeley in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering and went on to work as a group leader in the strategic business unit at St. Jude Medical. From there, Major went on to become a technical program manager for Apple, according to her Facebook profile.

According to Lisa Pruitt, associate dean for students of the College of Engineering, she first met Major in 2012 when Major enrolled in her biomaterials course. Impressed with Major’s “immense presence,” Pruitt invited her to join her research lab. 

According to Pruitt, Major worked with doctoral candidates and surgical residents for her research. Major also played an integral role in a case study on reversed shoulder failures. Pruitt said Major showed an enthusiasm for problem-solving.

“She integrated beautifully into our lab, bringing her kindness and collaborative nature with her,” Pruitt said. “Carol was a loved member of my academic family, and she will be sorely missed.”

Major was enrolled in several of bioengineering associate teaching professor Terry Johnson’s classes. According to Johnson, he worked closely with Major to prepare a talk for Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholars and prospective students.

“We were very happy to have her on campus with us, and we were proud of what she had a chance to achieve after she graduated,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Major was a “big part” of the bioengineering community and was highly involved both during and after her time at UC Berkeley. Major attended a UC Berkeley Career Connections event in November 2018, according to Johnson.

“I know that if there was some event or program on campus that would help to support or prepare newer students, you would often find Carol there,” Johnson said. “I think that’s one of the most important things that a person can do in their last two years is to look to people in their first two years and say ‘How can I help?’”

According to a Facebook post from Melanie Major, sister of Major, there will be a memorial service in honor of Major taking place Sept. 3 at 10 a.m. at the Cusimano Family Colonial Mortuary in Mountain View, California.

Aishwarya Kaimal is the lead research and ideas reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Aishwarya_R_K‏.