Vigil held at UC Hastings for Ambassador Stevens

September 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
There was a somber vigil in San Francisco Monday evening to remember Ambassador Chris Stevens. He was one of four Americans killed when the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked.

Stevens attended UC Hastings in the 1980s and he made a lasting impression. As for the current crop of students, he's made a lasting impression on them too.

"The ambassador serves as a shining example to all of us, especially Hastings students, of what you can do with your life when you believe in a purpose," said Matthew Valdez, the UC Hastings student president.

None of the students knew Stevens. He graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1989. Even so, the young men and women felt compelled to take part in a candlelight vigil in his honor.

"He sat in the same classrooms. It may be that he had the same professors and we're connected to this person and he was a great person. He's a great person to be connected to," said Mariia Privaltseva, a UC Hastings student.

Stevens died last week after an attack on the US Consulate Libya. It was part of a wave of unrest over an anti-Islam film. Witness accounts and new video now indicate the ambassador was still breathing when a crowd of Libyans walked through the compound after the assault. They carried him to a car, which drove him to the hospital. But Stevens succumbed from his injuries not long after. The government believes he died of smoke inhalation.

"It does sadden me that we can't have him come to school here and answer our questions and ask him for advice, like 'What did you do to get there?' and it's a tragic loss not just to the Hastings community, but the world as a whole," said Andrew Quan, a UC Hastings student.

Stevens served as a U.S. envoy to the rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi as part of the Arab Spring. Professor John Diamond says he knew early on that Stevens would make a difference. He says he stood out not just for his intelligence, but for his compassion.

"I honestly did not think he would go and help a revolution. I didn't think that, but I thought he would make his mark on the world," said Diamond.

UC Hastings dean says Stevens' spirit will live on at the school, serving as an inspiration to the younger generation to strive for something better.

"Sometimes we think about law as very contentious, as people arguing with one another, but here was someone who used the law and legal training in the best possible sense," said UC Hastings Chancellor and Dean Frank Wu.

Wu added UC Hastings is exploring the idea of having some sort of scholarship fund in Stevens' name.


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