5Cs Remember Ali Mirza, 1993-2013

Claremont McKenna College will hold a service today at 2 p.m. to remember the life of Ali Mirza CM ’15, who died in May at age 19.  The service, which is being held in McKenna Auditorium, will include speeches by Mirza’s friends, family, and professors, in addition to three video tributes. 

“The thing that we’re trying to do on Friday is more a celebration of Ali’s life than a traditional memorial service,” said Mustafa Mirza CM ’76, Ali’s father. “It’s more of an upbeat thing.” He added that guests are encouraged to wear casual clothes, including shorts and T-shirts, to the service. 

An upbeat service seems only right for Mirza, who was known on campus for his outgoing personality and ceaseless smile. 

Ali’s brother, Akbar Mirza CM ’13, said, “He was always kind of master of the unexpected, very dynamic, very spontaneous, but extremely mild-mannered and had a heart of gold.”  Akbar said that Mirza, a psychology major, was interested in the transformation of media.  “His big academic interest was social change and how media was shaping social change,” Akbar said. 

“He was just very loving for life, and outgoing,” said CMC accounting professor Marc Massoud, a family friend of the Mirzas who first met Mirza when he was a sophomore in high school. “He took classes across the campuses. He had friends at Pitzer [College]; he had friends at Pomona [College].”

Mirza’s friend Joe Dorn CM ’15 also spoke of Mirza’s many friendships.

“The thing I remember about him the most is that he was close to many people,” Dorn said. “Every relationship was a unique one for him. He could go outside social norms and be friends with everyone.” 

Mirza produced music, served as a disc jockey at parties, and was co-president of the 5C Hip-Hop Club. A varsity volleyball player at Staples High School in his hometown of Westport, Conn., he also played for the 5C club team.

At a memorial service held in Greenwich, Conn. in June, CMC President Hiram Chodosh, who will also speak today, spoke of Mirza’s “special zest for life.” 

“During my transition to CMC this spring, I had the great pleasure to meet Ali on a few occasions,” Chodosh said at the ceremony. “I was immediately impressed by his charisma; the breadth of his many expansive talents as a communicator and innovator; and his diverse interests in classics, religion, psychology, athletics, and music. Ali had an expansively open and positively engaging spirit, serving both as an exemplar and source of infectious popularity among his peers.” 

“He was just a wonderful, wonderful person to get to know,” Massoud said. “Always smiling.” 

A scholarship fund is being started in Mirza’s name. He is survived by his father, brother, and mother, Liz Mirza CGU ’79.