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University Mourns The Loss Of BC Grad And Fulbright Scholar

News Editor

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

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Photo courtesy of Meg Dalla Tezza


Kelly Dalla Tezza, BC ’11, died Friday in a tragic car accident while working in Morocco on a Fulbright scholarship.

Dalla Tezza, who graduated from Boston College last May with a degree in Islamic Studies and Civilization, won a Fulbright grant to study the success of women in Bahraini politics and examine the prospects for similar success in other countries of the region.

The accident occurred near Rabat, Morocco, where Dalla Tezza spoke at a Fulbright conference on Friday, according to CBS Baltimore. While driving back from the conference, a tire blew out in her car and she lost control of the vehicle. The other passengers of the car survived, but Dalla Tezza did not.

Dorothy Smith, a close friend of Dalla Tezza’s and BC ’09, remarked that she was “an amazing young woman.”

“Most of all, I think she made the most of all her life experiences—she truly embraced time in different Middle Eastern countries and had an ability to make connections with a diverse group of people,” Smith said in an e-mail. “She was beginning a distinguished career and we often talked about different opportunities for her in the future.”

“We shared so many things in common: our neighborhood in Baltimore, interest in politics, love of the Middle East, sense of adventure, and even the same job at our local garden center. Many people will be missing Kelly.”

Dalla Tezza came to BC in the fall of 2006 after graduating as the salutatorian of her Maryland high school. She spent her junior year abroad in Spain and Jordan, and wrote her senior year thesis on Jordanian national identity and the Palestinian refugee crisis. She excelled in Arabic language classes, and showed a passion for the language beyond the norm. Ryan Folio, A&S ’12, became close friends with Kelly during their Arabic studies. “I said then, and will say now, that she was undeniably the best Arabic language student that I have come across in my time at Boston College,” Folio said in an e-mail.

Atef Ghobrial, a part-time professor in the department of Slavic and Eastern Languages and Literatures, taught Kelly in six Arabic classes during her time at BC. “She was outstanding—one of, if not the best, student I’ve had here,” Ghobrial said. “She had straight As throughout her six classes with me. She was very smart, very dedicated, and a conscientious student.”

“Kelly applied for and received an ICS Research Award to return to Jordan during her senior year because she wasn’t satisfied that she had uncovered every stone and interviewed every person on her thesis topic,” said Kathleen Bailey, an associate professor in the political science department who was working with Dalla Tezza organizing a summer study abroad program in Kuwait. “She wanted it to be perfect. Kelly was energetic, passionate and very bright. She had a natural curiosity about the world and you couldn’t stop her from exploring it.”

Kelly was far more than just smart. She was a loving daughter, a caring friend, and a dedicated, hardworking student. “In reality, everything about Kelly contributed to her very own brand of comfortable happiness,” Folio said. “This quality worked on those closest to her in many ways—at various points inspiring us, moving us to laughter, or making us feel loved.”

“Kelly was always on the go,” said Meg Dalla Tezza, Kelly’s mother. “She was definitely one-of-a-kind. She didn’t worry about following the crowd, but was very independent. She loved learning Spanish and Arabic and was very interested in world affairs, especially involving the Middle East. Kelly was very interested in helping to make the world a more peaceful place, where we would accept all cultures.”

Despite her experiences around the world, though, her mother said that Kelly stayed rooted in Maryland, loved her family, and enjoyed simple pleasures. “While Kelly would accomplish so much, she still loved to come home, be with family and enjoyed all of the simplest things,” Meg said. “I was truly blessed to have Kelly as my daughter. She was energetic, bright, ambitious, compassionate, and simply amazing.”

Even when she was half the world away, Kelly remained in touch with her friends and professors from home. “Kelly treated friendship as a responsibility,” Folio said. “Even though thousands of miles separated us while she lived in Bahrain, she connected with me almost daily. And from that distance, in spite of her very own stressors and struggles, she was able to be one of the greatest friends a man could ever ask for.”

On Monday morning, Ghobrial found a package on his desk from Kelly. Despite being all the way in Bahrain, Kelly had sent Ghobrial a decorative lamp and enclosed a note thanking him for his recommendations. Without the help and support of her professors, she wrote, she never would have had the opportunity to study on a Fulbright grant.

“The worst day in a long time was this past Monday when I heard the news, just an hour after I received a present from her,” Ghobrial said. “She was just vivacious, full of life, optimistic, and had a contagious sense of humor. She was a lot of fun to be around. She could’ve gone on to be Secretary of State. Honestly.”

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