Hundreds of students, friends and UC Berkeley faculty — even some who had never met him — gathered Monday afternoon on the Cal campus to remember Nicolas Leslie, 20, who was killed in the terror attack in Nice, France on July 14 which took the lives of 84 and injured over 200 more.
“If I had 20 years to live, I would live them like Nick,” said Natasha Nicholson, reading words written by one of Leslie’s childhood friends, who couldn’t make the vigil, which was led by ASUC President William Morrow.
Leslie was studying in UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, and had been accepted to the Haas School of Business. He was one of 85 students on a 15-day study abroad program called Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Europe, part of the European Innovation Academy. Three other UC Berkeley students attending the program were also injured in the Nice attack.
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks took the microphone on Sproul Plaza for the second time in two weeks to mourn the passing of a UC Berkeley student due to a terrorist act. On July 5 he spoke about Tarishi Jain, a Cal student murdered by terrorists in Bangladesh on July 2.
“Our hearts break once again,” he said, “for a life cut short by senseless terrorism.” Dirks spoke of how he had learned that Lewis was a happy and charismatic person, of his plans to attend Haas, and of how his dreams and aspirations had been extinguished. “There will always be peril, but there will also always be promise. We need to turn back the forces of hatred and honor the legacies [of students like these],” he said.
One of Leslie’s fraternity brothers, James Manriquez from Phi Gamma Delta, spoke about a young man who loved the ocean and loved teasing his friends.
And Nicholson, whose brother Austin was Leslie’s close friend, remembered being swept off her feet by the tall Leslie as he congratulated her on the occasion of her graduation two months ago. “He would make your day; he would always stop to make you happy… he always made your day better,” she said, recalling how much her family loved Leslie. “My brother is a better person because of him,” she concluded.
Three flags fluttered behind all the speakers in the late afternoon breeze — one American, one Italian (Leslie’s mother is Italian), and one French — and a large photograph of Leslie, as well as flowers and a banner on which to write notes of condolence, were placed in front of them.
Ani Surumpudi, who worked closely with Leslie at Net Impact Berkeley, a student-run nonprofit consulting group in the social and environmental field, remembered Leslie as a a friend he could count on, and someone who would always light up a room.
Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, from the Consul General of France in San Francisco, described the attack that killed Leslie as “an assault against the world,” given that those who lost their lives were young and old and from countries far and wide. Saying he was bringing to Berkeley the condolences of the Consulate and the French people, he said that, though he did not know Leslie, his research had revealed a “smiling young man full of generosity” willing to be work to make the world a better place. Leslie embodied the values of freedom, democracy and a tolerant way of life, Lebrun-Damiens said. “These are the values that were attacked by the terror organization,” he said. “In France we sum up those values as ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.'”
Joseph Greenwell, Dean of Students at UC Berkeley, concluded the vigil by reading a report from the head of the study abroad program Leslie had been attending, who has been spending time with Leslie’s parents in Nice. “The family thanks the community of friends in Nice and Berkeley for the way they had embraced them in sympathy,” he read. “The family urged his friends and fellow students to carry Nick’s positive outlook. They had high expectation for all Berkeley students, just as they did for their son, and wished all UC Berkeley students success and joy.”
UC Berkeley student confirmed dead in Nice terror attack (07.17.16)
Cal student missing after Nice attack; other students injured (07.15.16)
Hundreds hold vigil for Cal student killed in Bangladesh attack (07.05.16)
UC Berkeley student among those killed in Bangladesh terrorist attack (07.02.16)
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