U.Va Community hosts remembrance event for University student Rehan Baddeliyanage

The event was focused on celebrating Baddeliyanage’s memories and positive impacts on the community

Dean Allen Groves opened the remembrance event with a few remarks about Baddeliyanage’s accomplishments and positive impact on the community. Fateme Tavakoli | Cavalier Daily

The University community hosted a “Celebration of Life” event Sunday morning in Old Cabell Hall for Rehan Baddeliyanage, the fourth-year Engineering student who unexpectedly passed away in an accident over spring break. The remembrance event was followed by a reception in the McIntire School of Commerce’s Art Gallery and Courtyard. Approximately 200 people were in attendance. 

Baddeliyanage was majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Business Engineering. He was the vice chair for professional expectations and promotions in Housing and Residence Life. He was a member of the University Guide Service, Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity, IMP Society, Madison House, The Virginia No-Tones and Virginia Men’s Ultimate Club Frisbee.  

Baddeliyanage was also the recipient of the Kris Kishore Memorial Scholarship which was established in 2015 and is awarded to a fourth-year student at U.Va who demonstrates values such as service, community impact, leadership and passionate learning and “continue[s] leading a life of public service that inspires others and brings lasting, beneficial change to the community.”

Dean Allen Groves opened the remembrance event with a few remarks about Baddeliyanage’s accomplishments and positive impact on the community. Groves mentioned that the community should focus on celebrating who Baddeliyanage was and the memories he left behind. 

“One of the reasons his loss has impacted our university so severely is because of so many people that he came to know and came to touch, myself included,” Groves said. “My hope is that when we think of Rehan we will come back to the celebration of who he was. The smiles and the laughter I saw in his pictures, that is what we should focus on.”

Baddeliyanage’s girlfriend, 2018 University graduate Emily Ewing spoke at the end of the event and asked the audience to donate to The Rehan Baddeliyanage Memorial Fund — a scholarship that has been created to honor Rehan’s legacy. The scholarship will be awarded to an engineering student who best resembles Baddeliyanage’s personal character and is committed to servant leadership, kindness, generosity, integrity, community service and loyalty to friends. 

“Rehan always told me that when we got old and have money we should donate a scholarship to U.Va., so it’s fitting now that we do that,” Ewing said. “Rehan always thought about giving back and that’s what this scholarship is for, so please consider donating.”

Several of Baddeliyanage’s friends shared their memories of him with the audience. The Virginia No-Tones also dedicated a brief performance of Baddeliyanage’s favorite song, Magic by B.o.B, to his memory. 

Campbell Farnia, a third-year Batten student, talked about Baddeliyanage’s close friend and first-year roommate John Paul Popovich who passed away in December 2015. Farnia said that Baddeliyanage channeled his grief into giving back to the University community.  

“Rehan always said after JP’s passing, he knew he had to pick himself [up] and lean on the community that surrounded him just as JP would encourage him to do and he did exactly that and then some,” Farina said. “In the next few years, Rehan went on to become one of the University’s most integral members, touching the lives of hundreds of students and faculty who are here today.”  

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