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March 6, 1999



Re: Alumnus murdered in South America

As many of you may already have learned from news accounts, a UCSC alumnus has been murdered in South America. He was Terence (Terry) Freitas, a biology and environmental studies major who graduated in 1997.

According to Associated Press (AP) reports, Terry was identified as one of three bodies found in Venezuela near the Colombian border. They had been kidnapped in Colombia on February 25, after spending a week or two meeting with elders of the U'wa, an indigenous group, and working on education projects with them. According to AP, Terry had worked with the U'wa for the past five years, striving to help preserve that culture.

Associate Professor Daniel Press, one of the faculty members who knew him well, notes that Terry focused his skills in interdisciplinary problem-solving to address the efforts of indigenous peoples. Daniel comments, "Terry saw himself as facilitating the vision of native groups working to build a sustainable future in harmony with their own values and cultures. He was at once soft spoken, articulate, wryly humorous and very intense. He cared deeply about his work, and he was dedicated to using his increasingly strong skills to the betterment of indigenous societies."

Like so many UCSC students and alumni, Terry dedicated himself to making a positive difference in the world. For that reason, his brutal death is all the more sad and shocking. Although I didn't know him well, I'm so proud of him and proud that he was one of our community. He died living his convictions, and, though all of us share the grief of loss with his family and friends, we also can celebrate the meaningfulness of his too-short life.

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