January 4, 2017

International Student Rita Chami a Victim of the Terrorist Attack on an Istanbul Nightclub

Rita Chami
Rita Chami

Rita Chami, an international student enrolled through the college’s Lebanon Residency Program, has been identified as among those killed during the recent New Year’s Eve terrorist attack at an Istanbul nightclub.

Chami was 25.

A Lebanese citizen, she lived in Sabtie, which is located just outside of the capital of Beirut, and had travelled to Istanbul to celebrate the new year with two friends, Bouchra Douaihy, who was seriously wounded, and Elias Wardini, who perished in the attack.

“The senseless murder of one of our students is a tragic way to start the new year,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of SUNY Empire State College. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Rita’s family, her fellow students, friends and faculty, particularly those with our Lebanon program, during this terrible ordeal. We share their sorrow and are mourning with them. The sudden, needless death of one of our students, and so many others, brings home to the entire college community the desperate need for us all to foster peace and work to end terrorism.”

“Rita was a very well-known, popular and much-loved student,” said Jeannine Mercer, director of the college’s Lebanon program and Chami’s mentor. “So many students have been personally touched by her death. This is a pure tragedy and a great loss.”

Chami had transferred from the American University of Science and Technology (AUST), one of the college’s education partners in Lebanon.

Mercer said that Chami had been concentrating in radio and TV, but had decided to change her concentration to public relations.

Chami is survived by her father, Elias El Chami, and an uncle, Nazareth Nicolian, a professor with AUST, and several other family members.

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