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Sabbath Day

June 2, 2011
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Grief today: for Diane and Laura and Joe.

As I take this day to let God work in me, apart from the work that I do, Henri Nouwen’s term “wounded healer” comes to mind. Let us pray…

Divine Creator, you who hold death and life within the expanse of your embrace, hold us now. It seems we have lived many years this week; our bodies and hearts are exhausted from weeping. We are disoriented, we are sad, we are angry, we are confused, we are tired. But on this day, in this place, we rest in you, trusting our regrets and our hopes to your goodness and peace. In the strong name of Jesus, our brother, we pray. Amen.

Newsday: East Setauket woman killed in Conn. crash, by MATTHEW CHAYES

 A Connecticut car wreck early yesterday morning killed a woman from East Setauket who at 27 had already earned two Ivy League degrees, pushed for HIV/AIDS medicine in India and advocated for young women’s education in Africa, friends and relatives said.

The crash that killed Laura Kavazanjian happened on Interstate 95 in Groton, Conn., about 1:30 a.m. as she headed back to Long Island for the wedding of a Ward Melville High School classmate.

Kavazanjian’s fiance, David Reidy, was behind the wheel when the car left the road and rolled onto its hood, The Associated Press reported. Authorities and family members said Kavazanjian, who was asleep in the backseat, was thrown from the car. Reidy was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, AP said. Connecticut police did not immediately return a call.

Kavazanjian, a former field hockey defensive back at Brown University, was returning from the Rhode Island school’s five-year college reunion. She recently completed a master’s degree in international education policy at Harvard Graduate School of Education that focused on access to education for marginalized girls.

Her father, Tom, also a Brown alum, said his daughter was passionate about helping women in the developing world get an education.

Said her mother, Jan: “What she really valued in her life was her ability to get a great education as a girl — and she wanted to offer that to other girls.”

Kavazanjian’s Brown classmates and teammates are devastated, said her field hockey coach, Carolan Norris.

“She was going to make a difference in this world, for sure,” she said. “And she already had — even in her short five years after Brown.”

Teammate Kristen Vincent, 27, said she and other teammates plan to go to Long Island for a memorial service at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Setauket Presbyterian Church. Visitation will be at the church on Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

Vincent remembered Kavazanjian as “the hardest worker that I’ve ever met,” both on the field and in the classroom.

“She would sit in the library and just work and work and work,” Vincent said.

Brown’s president, Ruth Simmons, said: “The university has reached out to Laura’s family to offer our deepest condolences and support at this most difficult time. We extend our sincere sympathy to all of Laura’s classmates and friends, and join with them in mourning her tragic and untimely passing.”

Kavazanjian had done research in Malawi and worked for Save the Children and CARE for the Power to Lead Alliance, a program aimed at developing leadership among adolescent girls in six countries.

Before Harvard, she had worked as a program officer for the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative in Mumbai, India, where she designed and implemented a care and support program for more than 4,000 children living with HIV.

Kavazanjian also played field hockey at Ward Melville, from which she graduated in 2002. She was an All-State player in 2000 and an All-Long Island player in 2001.

In lieu of flowers, Harvard University will be setting up a Memorial Fund to further Girls Education in the Developing World.  Until the fund is established, donations can be made payable to the Setauket Presbyterian Church (5 Caroline Ave, Setauket, NY 11733) with a notation in the memo section stating “Laura Kavazanjian Memorial Fund.”

(Many thanks to artist Daniel Bonnell for his permission to use the painting “Jesus Wept” as a visual prayer in this post, and for his own prayers for the Damico, Kavazanjian and Ambrose families.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 16, 2011 4:31 pm


    Thank you for this beautiful piece!


    Anyone that would like to contribute to the Laura Kavazanjian Memorial Fund can give by going to:

  2. December 2, 2011 6:49 pm

    The Brown Alumni Magazine just published an article on Laura. Inspirational.


  1. Jesus Wept « revgeary

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