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Friends, family mourn loss of Salima Nagji

By Shane Nelson

Jan. 13, 2003 9:00 p.m.

Salima Nagji, a second-year psychology student who aspired to be
an attorney, died in a car accident in Orange County on Dec. 25.
She was 19.

Her roommate Sadaf Ali, who was in the car with Nagji, described
her best friend as honest, friendly, cheerful and “full of

“We could get dressed up and ready to go to a party, and
get lost ““ we always got lost ““ and drive around
and have so much fun … Some of my best memories were when we
weren’t even doing anything,” Ali said.

Nagji was motivated to earn her bachelor’s degree in three
years, said her brother Kamil, a fourth-year computer science
student at UC Berkeley.

“She wanted to beat me … She might have, she probably
would have, because I was going to take a little longer,”
Kamil said.

Family and friends said Nagji was very involved in her school
and community. She volunteered weekly at her church as a religious
teacher aide, Kamil said.

“She had a big heart ““ she tried to help people all
the time,” he said.

She was also a member of the Indian Student Union and performed
in their annual culture show during her first year at UCLA, he

In addition to her academic and volunteer activities, Nagji also
worked as a fall quarter intern in the public policy department of
the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Nagji was elated to learn she got the competitive ACLU
internship, Ali said.

Tenoch Flores, an ACLU press aide, said Nagji was eager to learn
everything she could about civil rights so she could be a great

She worked on two projects last quarter. Since the Southern
California affiliate is one of the oldest in the country, it has a
vast collection of photographs taken over the last 50 years. She
worked to reorganize some of these vast photo libraries.

For the second project Nagji helped organize a September event
during Banned Books Week called Expresión sin Fronteras
““ expression without borders. Nagji helped generate publicity
for the event that explored the limits of free speech for Chicanos
in popular culture. It had a great turnout, Flores said.

Zahra Giga, Nagji’s cousin and a first-year business
economics student, said the hardworking student initially wanted to
attend UC San Diego because she was not sure she would get into

But when she received her UCLA acceptance letter, the San Diego
plans became an afterthought.

“She did everything she wanted. She had a good life … It
was just too short,” Giga said.

Nagji’s family plans to start a memorial scholarship in
her name.

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Shane Nelson
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