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'A young man with tremendous promise': UC Berkeley alumnus Courtney Brousseau dies at 22

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MAY 06, 2020

Known for his love for public transit, trains and bicycles and for his passion, UC Berkeley alumnus Courtney Brousseau died Monday at age 22 surrounded by his family.

Brousseau was a well-known advocate for public transportation and affordability. In addition to his other work, he co-founded Gay for Transit San Francisco, a monthly meetup for LGBTQ+ community members who are passionate about public transport, with BART Board of Directors representative Janice Li.

Daniel Evans-Nakamura, Brousseau’s former roommate, said he was able to watch Brousseau grow, as he engaged more with activism, and follow his passions.

“He touched so many lives,” Evans-Nakamura said. “I got to witness him blossom.”

California state Sen. Scott Wiener said in an email that he and his staff knew and worked alongside Brousseau.

He described Brousseau’s death as “absolutely devastating,” and added that Brousseau was a “beloved member” of the San Francisco community.

“Courtney was clearly a young man with tremendous promise, deeply involved in his community and beloved by many,” said San Francisco district supervisor Rafael Mandelman in a tweet May 5. “My heart breaks for his friends and family, and for all the life that he should have had ahead of him.”

Brousseau was known for committing to everything, even sometimes overcommitting, according to Evans-Nakamura, who noted how involved Brousseau was in his community, both on campus and after graduating.

While he was a campus student, Brousseau was involved with the Student Union as chair of the Board of Directors. He was also a member of Cal Berkeley Democrats and the Berkeley Forum during his time on campus.

He impacted campus in a lot of ways, according to people who knew him. Brousseau and a team worked on the app Berkeley Mobile, which still assists current students in accessing campus resources such as bus schedules and dining hall menus, according to his LinkedIn.

“That’s who Courtney was. He would get really involved in things, he would meet and talk with people and try to understand them. He was super empathetic,” Evans-Nakamura said. “He was that kind of person that would see something wrong or broken, he would take it upon himself to fix it.”

Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson, who is also a former roommate of Brousseau’s, said in a social media post that he will remember Brousseau for his smile, his love for trains and the “Hamilton” soundtrack and his passion for building with computer code and Legos.

He added that he hopes people continue to advocate for public transit, bike lanes, civic technology, public schools and queer equality in the future in Brousseau’s memory.

“What can you possibly say in a moment like this?” Robinson said in the social media post. “I miss you, Brousseau Sprouts. And no, I won’t stop calling you that. We’ll tell your story.”

The Twitter post included the hashtag #LoveForCourtney, which has been used hundreds of times in the last several days by those who knew him to commemorate Brousseau’s life and impact.

Many have also been sharing their memories of Brousseau, pictures of him and their first interactions with him. Others have been pledging to donate to the 10 organizations to which Brousseau had been donating $50 each monthly since January.

Brousseau’s family said Brousseau had built an “amazing circle of love,” which he expanded with every person he met.

“To know Courtney you have to look beyond achievements and accomplish and instead believe, not intellectually nor through words but in actions, that life is about love,” his family said in a statement. “He understood what it meant to keep himself open to love, hope and gratitude. May that moment now be his eternity.”

Contact Shylie Ati and Sebastian Cahill at [email protected].

MAY 07, 2020