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Bruins remember UCLA student Sera Aintablian for her generous, sunny spirit

Sera Aintablian (pictured) was a second-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student who hoped to become a doctor. (Courtesy of Larisa Assadourian)

By Yifan Gu

April 19, 2022 9:54 p.m.

Sera Aintablian was a person who naturally uplifted others, said her cousin Larisa Assadourian.

Aintablian, a second-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student who was hoping to pursue a career in medicine, liked telling jokes and tried to ensure that everyone was well, Assadourian added. Aintablian died March 24 at the age of 20.

Aintablian was born in Lebanon before moving to the United States in her last year of preschool and lived in Pasadena, California. She graduated as valedictorian from AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School in 2020.

Assadourian, who is also a second-year physiological science student and Aintablian’s roommate, said Aintablian was of Armenian descent and was very faithful to her religion. They went to Armenian Christian elementary and middle schools together.

“She was like the model for an Armenian girl,” Assadourian said.

At UCLA, she was also a member of the Armenian Students’ Association. On March 25, ASA released Aintablian’s obituary on its Instagram account.

“Sera was a noble student and a loyal friend with a bright future ahead of her. The impact she has left on us and the Armenian community will never be forgotten,” the obituary read.

Friends of Aintablian said she was an extroverted person who easily connected with others.

Biona Hui, a second-year history student and current Illustrations staff for the Daily Bruin, has known Aintablian since early fall. She lived next door to Aintablian in the De Neve dorms and they would often hang out together, she added.

“In general, she was a very outgoing, happy – I wouldn’t say bubbly, but sunny – type of person,” Hui said. “She was just very easy to be around and I felt very comfortable being around her.”

Natallie Kochumian, a second-year human biology and society student and friend of Aintablian, expressed a similar sentiment.

Kochumian connected with Aintablian after being admitted to UCLA and interacted with her on social media before meeting her in person in fall.

She usually spent the night in Aintablian’s dorm working on homework, and they also went to the beach together, Kochumian added.

“She was always very friendly. Anytime she walked into a room, she had a smile and other people started smiling,” Kochumian said. “And she had a lot of sympathy for people and she really felt for others.”

Friends also remembered Aintablian for her love of singing and dancing.

“If you ever met Sera, it’s practically impossible to not have had some sort of dance party or singing session,” Assadourian said. “One day I brought a speaker, and she said this is the best idea I’d ever come up with.”

Hui said once when Aintablian was dancing, she hit the window screen, which then fell out. She then had to climb a tree to get the screen back, leading to a very memorable moment, Hui added.

“I remember (Aintablian) in everything I do. I see a funny TikTok, I think of sending it to her. I wear a certain outfit, I remember when she complimented me on this,” Assadourian said.

As a student, Kochumian said Aintablian was academically strong and aspirational and had dreamed of attending a top university such as UCLA. Assadourian added that Aintablian was enthusiastic about her future career on the pre-med path.

“She said she just couldn’t imagine herself doing anything else except being a doctor and helping people,” Assadourian said. “When we went to middle school together, we would do dissections. She was the most excited person among everyone in the whole room.”

Aintablian loved to make sure her work was perfect and worked hard to build her career, including volunteering in a hospital in Lebanon one summer, Hui said.

A fundraiser has been opened to raise money to donate towards different causes in Aintablian’s memory, including for children with special needs and to help the Armenian community.

Assadourian said Aintablian often brought people closer together and helped her find many friends.

“She really liked to go out and just have fun, enjoy life. And I think that she really pulled me out of my shell for a bit,” Hui said. “I really enjoyed those memories with her, they were the best ones I’ve had in the entire school year.”

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