This Thursday, friends, family and members of the UC Davis community will come together to honor Malfitano’s memory, as the ASUCD Conference Room is officially renamed the Angelina Malfitano Room. The ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Memorial Union.
“She was charming and completely disarming … I don’t think I met anyone who was just so eager to complement people,” said Adam Barr, a 2005 alumnus and former ASUCD senator, who worked with Malfitano in student government.
Malfitano passed away May 30, 2006 in a car accident on her way back to school from Antioch, California.
A women’s studies and political science double major, Malfitano was actively involved on campus, serving as student assistant to the chancellor and an advocate for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) rights. In addition, she participated in the Gender and Sexuality Commission, Davis Honors Challenge, Cross Cultural Center and Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh! among a long list of other activities.
Barr noted that as an LGBT rights activist, Malfitano had successfully pushed for Safe Zone training – training to reduce homophobia and heterosexism on the UC Davis campus -particularly for administration officials.
“She spearheaded it,” Barr said. “It wasn’t necessarily standing up for oppressed people … the way she thought was people were beautiful, and if there were people out there who didn’t see gay or transgender people [that way], she wanted to help them see that.“
Griselda Castro, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, and Malfitano’s former supervisor during her tenure as student assistant to the chancellor, said Malfitano had such tremendous charisma “everybody gravitated toward her.“
“She was a wonderful spirit and omnipresent on campus,” Castro said. “Her philosophy of life was TANG – take care of yourself, always ask why, no regrets, and be genuine.”
Castro related how Malfitano would challenge those around her to “stay TANGy.“
“You knew when she was in the room,” said Leora Wolf-Prusan, one of Malfitano’s best friends and a 2006 UC Davis alumna. “She was magnetic. We met the first day of Davis; it will always be hard that we weren’t able to graduate together.“
For Rebecca Schwartz, a senior political science and Spanish double major, Malfitano was a role model.
“I really looked up to Angelina,” said Schwartz, a former ASUCD senator, in an e-mail interview. “Angelina was the person that somehow everyone knew in every niche of campus life … [she] was motivated, extremely intelligent, and literally the most genuine person I’ve met here at Davis.“
Schwartz recalled how she was inspired to become active on campus during her work interning for Malfitano while she was student assistant to the chancellor. As an ASUCD senator, Schwartz said she was glad the senate passed legislation renaming the ASUCD Conference Room to the Angelina Malfitano Room.
“I hope that we will be able to put some quotes (like TANG) in the room, too,” Schwartz said. “In my opinion, the room dedication should help teach future students about her amazing life.“
Upon her return to Davis – and just a week shy of her graduation – Malfitano was to receive the Chancellor’s Award for Merit, which is given to eight student finalists each year. Malfitano received honorary degrees from the university following her death.
After graduation, Malfitano planned to work for Teach for America, where she had been accepted to work in Los Angeles. Afterwards, she planned to return to academia to pursue a graduate degree.
ANDRE LEE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.