Sigma Kappa, Greek Life honor the life of Christiana Duarte
Hundreds of students gathered in remembrance of University of Arizona alumna Christiana Duarte, lighting candles and hearing close friends speak in the Greek Heritage Park on Oct. 9.
Duarte was one of the 59 people killed in the Las Vegas shooting. She lived her last moments dancing and listening to her favorite country music, according to close friends.
Six close friends shared their memories of Duarte to the crowd, remembering her infectious smile, strong friendship and her love of dancing.
“She wasn’t your typical friend,” UA law and philosophy junior Breanna Santos said. “She loved the people around her hard, and she fought along your side against any obstacles that you might be facing… she was the best big sister that I could’ve ever asked for.”
Santos was Duarte’s “little sister” in their sorority, Sigma Kappa. To deal with the loss, Santos traveled to Los Angeles to spend time with Duarte’s best friends.
“Before that my mind felt really … cloudy, I felt like I couldn’t think and after I had that weekend… I just feel ... so much better,” she said.
Duarte’s friends had planned to see her at Homecoming during the week of Oct. 22.
“We made our plans and promised a reunion at Homecoming, and like Sean (Campbell) said, ‘we’ll be seeing you at the biggest Homecoming there is,’” UA marketing senior Brooke Hitchins said.
Multiple friends expressed sadness that her life ended when it was just beginning; Duarte was just 22 when she died.
UA nursing student Lauren King remembered speaking about their goals, hopes and dreams together, and was heart-broken that those dreams were taken too soon.
“You didn’t deserve the fate that was handed to you, nor did the other 58 [victims] of this terrible crime,” King said. “I wish this wasn’t the way things ended for you. I wish you could’ve lived out those dreams.”
However, friends noted that she lived as fulfilling a life as anyone could ever hope for.
“I can recall a photo she has on her Facebook right now, with the caption that says ‘Smile, because life is too short to be unhappy,’” King said. “And that’s exactly what she always did. She lived her life the way we all should. With no regrets, ready for anything, living life to the fullest every day and always wearing that beautiful smile on her face.”
UA marketing major Brooke Hitchins remembered Duarte joking about how she knew so many people being involved in too much at the Eller College of Management.
“It’s funny looking back on it now, because you taught me what a real legend was,” Hitchins said. “It’s you. You were so loved, you left your legacy here.”
“Chrissy wasn’t the president of her sorority, she wasn’t the teacher’s pet, she wasn’t the homecoming queen,” Hitchins continued. “She was bigger than just a silly label, and she proved that by making an impact on this world all through one thing: love. Nothing else matters. She’s remembered because of how she treated and loved the people in her life.”
Elementary education student Jessica Hopkins didn’t want anyone to take the situation lightly.
“If there’s anything I want you to take away from what happened here, it’s this: our world is hurting, and what’s happening is real,” Hopkins said. “Chrissy was 22 and just starting her life, but that was ripped away without anyone having a say in the matter… Tragedies like this shouldn’t keep happening… I lost my best friend in a way that nobody should. Parents mourn for their daughter in a way that no parent ever should. A brother grieves for his baby sister in no way a brother should. Feel that. Think about that. And change what is happening because no person should have to feel the pain we are feeling.”
According to Sigma Kappa president and UA marketing student Kayley Schiffler, 500 candles were not enough to cover the large crowd that showed up for Duarte.
“I knew [a large crowd] would happen, it just kind of actualized the fact that she’s who she is,” said Sean Campbell, a class of 2017 graduate. “She was so friendly, could love anyone, she had so much love in her heart that it was expected. Everyone wanted to see her again.”
Hitchins said that the large crowd meant the whole world to her, because it showed what a large impact Duarte had. It also showed how supportive the Greek community and the UA community is.
One thing Duarte will be remembered for is her signature dance to Abba’s Dancing Queen.
“Chrissy loved to dance,” Campbell said. “One of our favorite dances was the ‘Dancing Queen.’ She loved to jive, and my times with her are the times of my life.”
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Santos said that Duarte didn’t want anyone to be scared of the world, but instead to live and laugh for her.
“Although Chrissy lost her life in the worst most hurtful way possible, I find peace knowing she was in a city that she loved, listening to her favorite music with people that she loved,” Santos said. “She was happy and she was dancing her heart away. The dance floor is still open and it’s playing your favorite song Chrissy. You’re a dancing queen.”
Corrections: A previous version of this story attributed quotes from Brooke Hitchins to a Alex Swanson. The print edition of this story referred to the sorority incorrectly as "Kappa Sigma." It should have read "Sigma Kappa." The Daily Wildcat regrets the error.
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