Early on the morning of May 17, 2013, 19-year-old Claremont McKenna College student Ali Mirza ’15 passed away. Ali was a sophomore at CMC. He was the younger brother of Akbar Mirza ’13 and the son of Mustafa Mirza ’76 and Elizabeth Mirza.
On campus, Ali was a media studies major, played for the Claremont Colleges 5C Volleyball Club, and was a campus DJ. Ali’s love of music led him to mix his own tracks and DJ many campus events. In his hometown of Westport, CT, Ali worked at FTNS Radio helping with audio production, his overwhelming passion. He had previously worked as a camp counselor, and throughout his teenage years was an avid volleyball player.
On the evening of May 17th, Claremont Colleges students organized a candlelight vigil to celebrate Ali’s profound life and influence on those around him. His parents were in town for the weekend to attend his brothers graduation ceremony on May 18. Friends and acquaintances gathered on Green Beach and spoke to his extraordinary empathy, the powerful love he showed his friends, his easygoing, humorous character, and his love for music. Small candles dotted the hill where festivities often take place. But on this sad occasion, crowds gathered out of sorrowful respect for the contribution he made to CMC’s tightly-woven community.
Ali is remembered as an infectiously enthusiastic friend with a welcoming personality. At the vigil, multiple students recounted stories of meeting Ali upon first arriving at CMC and feeling instantly part of the community. Remembrances of his charisma and warm smile have flooded social media in the days following his passing as a testament to his impact on all those around him.
Student Clancy Tripp ’15 offered the following in a tribute to Ali published on her personal blog:
I can’t claim that I knew Ali extremely well, but what I can say is that he was to me what he was to hundreds of us: someone who made us feel cared about, someone who inspired us to enjoy every moment, someone who was so genuine that he made us want to follow his example. If anyone truly embodies what a CMCer should be, it’s Ali.
The sheer number of students moved by Ali’s loss is testimony to the positive impact that he had in such a short time at CMC. His absence on campus will be deeply felt.
The email sent to the student body can be found below:
Dear Members of the CMC Community:
I am very saddened to report the untimely death of Ali Mirza ’15, who passed away early this morning. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.
We will share more information with our community as it becomes available. Members of the CMC staff have been with Ali’s family.
A community-gathering place has been set up in the Crocker Reading Room, Bauer Center North, 1st floor. Members of the Monsour Counseling Center Staff and Office of the Chaplains, as well as members of the College staff, stand ready to assist students, faculty, and staff at this difficult time. Note cards will be available for anyone who wishes to write a message to Ali’s family.
In addition, the Monsour Counseling Center has staff available for walk-ins as needed, and Chaplains are available in the McAlister Center.
Our deepest sympathies go out to the Mirza family and the CMC community.
Pamela B. Gann
Editors Note: The Forum offers its deepest condolences to Ali’s friends and family. We welcome all those who knew Ali to share stories of his wonderful character, and unforgettable magnetism on those around him below. He was a spectacular member of our community, and shall be sorely missed.