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News: Alumni Updates

Passing of Simi Abrol, '16

Thursday, April 12, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
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Last week, the School of Law community was rocked by the unspeakably sad news that our recent and beloved graduate Simi Abrol, ‘16, had died suddenly in her home. Just 33 years old, Simi was alone when stricken ill.

A star clinical law student, Simi won the Olender Award for her work in General Practice Clinic where, after extensive research, she successfully advocated for and obtained the reinstatement of unemployment benefits for one of her clients.

“Simi was a shining light in the General Practice Clinic. She won the Olender Prize for hundreds of hours of wonderful, thorough, and compassionate work.” - Associate Dean Matt Fraidin

At the time of her death, Simi had been in training to become an immigration attorney.

“Simi was a special, generous and beautiful soul. I reconnected with her this year to recruit her to learn immigration law; she was hired and has been working soooooo hard these past few months. She was so passionate and dedicated, and was becoming very good at immigration law. Last week we had just talked about her plans and positive attitude for her bar prep this summer. I’m going to miss this girl a lot. She was one of a kind.” - Jenn Laskin, ‘15

Simi’s funeral was held on Saturday, April 7 and was attended by her family and friends including many of her fellow UDC Law students and alumni. Deans Broderick and Fraidin also attended. Dean Broderick says, “It was a totally heartbreaking, but beautiful Hindu funeral, with rose petals strewn on her open casket.”

Group of Olender awardees on stage
Simi Abrol, in the red dress at far left, is among Olender Award winners from Howard and UDC Law with UDC Law Dean Shelley Broderick giving the thumbs up.

Simi Abrol and Dean Shelley Broderick in graduation regalia
Only days before she died, Simi responded to our call for photos of Dean Broderick by sending this picture

The following quotes were among the many posts about Simi on the School of Law’s Alumni and Friends Facebook group:

“Her infectious smile and gregariousness were the first things I thought of when I heard the news. It’s a dimmer world without her.” - Nathaniel Goodman-Johnson, ’17
“She was so bright, talented, full of life and promise, and that's how I will always remember her.” - Armen Kharazian, ‘16
“She was so sweet and beautiful. I pray for her family and friends.” - Shanita Nae Matta, ‘16
“This is devastating. I’m heartbroken for her family. We had clinic together in 2015 and I will always remember her incredible energy, intelligence, humor, and genuine kindness. Keeping her loved ones in my thoughts.” - Amanda Fox Perry, ‘15
“I remember her so well. I haven't really known what to say since I saw this earlier in the afternoon. I remember going to watch the Redskins game with her and another person at a local bar. She was always so sweet and full of encouragement. My heart breaks for her family and for all of us in the UDC community who knew her” - Pegah Afshar, ‘14
“She interned in our Committee office in the Council and was passionate, vibrant, and full of life. I’m so shocked and saddened that her time ended so soon." - Anne Wonsettler Robinson, ‘14
“News like this is always shocking and hard to believe. Simi was so full of life and caring. I pray for her family, friends, and UDC family to be comforted during this time. Heaven has gained another angel.” - Tracey Jackson, ‘18
“Omg, this is so heartbreaking for me! She was my friend throughout law school. We studied together, and had so much fun. Simi, you will always be in my heart!” - Natasha Bennett, ‘16
“While still stunned and reeling, I have a story. Of course, Simi had an absolutely radiant smile - and she could also be absurdly polite. When I’d pass her in the hallway and say hello, she’d unfailingly say “Hello Mr. Libertelli.” After putting up with this for a time, I asked her to please call me “Joe” but she said she couldn’t, because in her culture – her parents’ culture, I presume – it was mandatory to address elders in a formal and respectful way. After some additional weeks of this, I cross examined her, “Isn’t it true that the reason one uses the polite form is to make the older person feel respected and comfortable?” and, of course, she agreed. Continuing, I said with a smile, “And so, if I tell you that your calling me ‘Mr. Libertelli’ makes me feel UN-comfortable, would your tradition not require you to address me IN-formally?” We both laughed because, I’m pretty sure the actual answer was “no.” I’m not sure she ever called me “Joe” – but I think she ducked the problem by just smiling when she saw me. Which, in Simi’s case, was certainly quite enough to brighten my day.” - Alumni Director Joe Libertelli, ‘85
“Her smirk was as good as her smile—and her smile was extraordinary. I cared for her a great deal. She was at once the least and most confident of people, and she and I related to one another in that regard, and her empathy was immediate and limitless. I am heartbroken to learn that she is dead. She and I had some very good times, and we both valued very good times as they were happening. She didn’t take time for granted. My father adored her.” - William McLain IV, ’05, LLM ‘16

The family announced that a memorial scholarship fund will be created in Simi’s honor and memory. Further details will be shared with the School of Law community when they become available.


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