Almost three months later, Georgetown is still remembering.
Riggs Library was filled on Sunday morning with faculty, friends and relatives paying tribute to the memory of Michael Jurist (SFS ’07), who died July 30 when he was struck by a bolt of lightning struck on Hilton Head Island, S.C., where he was vacationing. During Homecoming Weekend, services were held for both Jurist and Fatema Khimji (SFS ’07), who died in a car collision on the Ohio Turnpike on June 19.
A number of speakers on Sunday shared memories of Jurist’s accomplishments as a stand-out student who made his mark as a leader on campus, highlighting his kindness and friendship.
“It was who he was that’s the reason we’re here, not what he did,” said Joe Zwosta (COL ’07), Jurist’s former roommate and friend, during the memorial service. He said that Jurist’s four years on the Hilltop were “a testament to what makes Georgetown great.”
School of Foreign Service Dean Emeritus Peter Krogh, who spoke at the memorial, said that Sunday’s weather was an appropriate tribute “to Michael and his sunny disposition.”
Krogh, Jurist’s former professor, said that he and Jurist eventually took their relationship beyond the classroom as tennis partners and friends. “The gods take first those with promise, and this they did with Michael,” he said.
Jurist’s parents, Paul and Vesna, who attended the service, said that their only child was a deciding factor in each decision they made. Paul Jurist spoke about his son’s thirst for knowledge and expressed happiness that Georgetown supplied their son with what he called four intellectually and socially vibrant years.
“Michael was the center of our universe,” he said.
Paul Jurist expressed his appreciation for the outpouring of support from the Georgetown community, saying that he and his wife have received countless letters from students, teachers, and a smorgasbord of Michael Jurist’s acquaintances offering condolences and fond memories of their son. “All mentioned his smile, integrity [and] kindness,” he said during the memorial service.
“We had no idea he was so popular,” Vesna Jurist said after the service.
Jurist’s parents said that they hope to stay connected to Georgetown by partnering with the Lecture Fund and the BMW Center for German and European Studies to present the Annual Mike Jurist emorial Lecture each February.
Mahen Gunaratna (SFS ’08), the chair of the Lecture Fund, said that the Lecture Fund will choose a speaker to present on a topic that Michael was passionate about – such as international affairs, political satire, Europe or sports – each spring semester. Gunaratna said a speaker for the kick-off event has not yet been chosen.
“We’re in the planning stages of the event,” he said, adding that the club is aiming at beginning the lectures in February.
The Lecture Fund and club tennis team, in both of which Jurist was a committed member, co-organized a memorial gathering over Homecoming weekend. The club tennis team has memorialized Jurist, one of the club’s founders, by imprinting his initials on their team shirts.
Services were also held over Homecoming weekend for Khimji, who was an active leader in the Muslim Students’ Association during her time on campus.
As the MSA had already held a religious service for Khimji over the summer, Tasneem Khimji, her mother, asked that the Sept. 30 one, which followed Jurist’s, be secular.
Dozens attended the service, which was planned by Minoo Razavi (SFS ’09) and Krisztina Schoeb (COL ’07). Razavi said that several of Khimji’s graduating class friends were unable to attend the summer service and were happy to receive closure from the Homecoming Sunday memorial, which was held in New North.
“She already had the religious ceremony. We wanted it to be something more cheerful where her friends could remember her,” Schoeb said.
A PowerPoint presentation of pictures of Khimji during her time at Georgetown was playing in the corner of the room while her friends milled around, chatting with each other in what Schoeb described as an informal environment. On display was a quilt that Schoeb sewed in memory of Khimji and mailed to her mother – along with the service’s guestbook – in time for the end of Ramadan two weeks ago.
“It was a tough summer and I decided to put my energy into something positive,” Schoeb said. “I decided to make a quilt in bright colors because Fatema always wore bright colors.”
Sarkis Kavarian (COL ’08), Khimji’s guitar teacher at Georgetown, played three songs during the service, including her favorite Goo Goo Dolls song `Slide,’ an improvised song and a classical music piece.
“Slide was the last piece that she was working on before she died,” Kavarian said. “The mood was very quiet as I was playing. Everybody was looking at the slides just remembering her – there was a girl next to me who kept sobbing. . It was a powerful moment.”
Tasneem Khimji said that no formal projects to remember her daughter had been planned yet. “I do want to do something and am mulling different ideas,” she said. “I am also going to talk to some of her friends some more before I decide.” Khimji’s friends said that the service was meant to help keep her memory alive.
“It was a little somber, but in general, it was a happy occasion in that everybody was brought to see each other. There were definitely smiles on everybody’s faces,” Razavi said. “It was very Fatema-esque.”