Tech group to honor late Iranian student

HOUGHTON – The new area Sanaz Nezami was just beginning to know will be able to celebrate her life and mourn her death Tuesday.

Iranian Community at Michigan Tech, a student group at Michigan Technological University, will hold a memorial service from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday in Ballroom B of the Memorial Union Building on campus. International programs and Services (IPS) and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion are assisting. The event is open to the public.

Nezami, 27, had enrolled for the spring semester at Michigan Technological University, where she planned to pursue a doctorate in environmental engineering. On Dec. 8, she was taken to Portage Health for extensive head injuries allegedly inflicted by her husband, Nima Nassiri. Four days later, she died at Marquette General Hospital. Nassiri has been charged with second-degree homicide.

The incident created a “wave of sadness,” said Ali Mirchi, one of the organizers of Tuesday’s event. A professor in the mechanical engineering department suggested the ceremony.

“Everybody was trying to help in any way, and they couldn’t because of the legal constraint that we couldn’t really visit Sanaz in the hospital,” Mirchi said. “After we heard of the tragic death, we decided to get together and remember her on campus because she was going to start her graduate education here.”

While many Iranian students new to the school will contact someone from the Iranian community at Tech beforehand to help them acclimate, none of the students had met Nezami yet, Mirchi said.

“We think this could have helped avoid this in some way, if she knew some people in the area,” he said.

Mirchi said there will be a moment of silence for Nezami. The speakers will talk about her dream to pursue a doctorate in the United States, her death, and finally her gift of life to others. Nezami’s organs were donated to seven other people, including a 12-year girl, who received her heart.

Nurses at Marquette General Hospital set up a video chat with Nezami’s family in Tehran, Iran, who were able to communicate with them via video messenger. Mirchi said the student group is trying to allow Nezami’s family to watch Tuesday’s event. However, he said, it will take place early in the morning in Tehran, which is eight-and-a-half hours ahead of Houghton.

“They were very happy and appreciative, and they certainly appreciate what the community did for Sanaz, both in Houghton and in Marquette … we will do our best to have video for the family, or enable them to watch it online, or read a note from them,” he said.

Aside from a short social afterward, the last part of the event will be a multi-faith prayer for her soul, Mirchi said.

“We’re going to talk about her dream of peace and education in the world, and how this dream will continue,” he said.