Senior Cassi Tejeda, a history major, passed away January 30. She was 22.
Born October 18, 1999, in Visalia, she grew up there playing a variety of sports, from basketball to volleyball to track, and competing in soccer from age 5 through high school. From early on, she displayed a remarkable curiosity that would define her life, and after graduating from Redwood High School, she enrolled at Chico State in fall 2017 as a history major.
Faculty said her excitement to learn made her a wonderful addition to their classes. Sadie Friend, her lab instructor for “Introduction to Biological Anthropology,” described Tejeda as a keen learner who always expressed interest in the subject of the day. She was insightful and thoughtful with her assignments, Friend said, but even more impactful was the joyful, illuminating presence she brought to the classroom.
“Her kind heart and infectious, comforting, warm energy were felt by everyone around her, most noticeably by her lab mates. They became the fastest of friends when she joined her table, working well together and truly enjoying their time together,” she said. “She always came to class with an excitement to learn and spend time with her lab mates. Even through her mask, I could tell that she had a smile on her face when working with her group.”
History professor Alisa Wade said Tejeda was a delight to have in “Historians and Historical Methodology” and also remarked on her connection with classmates.
“She was intellectually curious and a frequent contributor to our discussions,” Wade said. “Cassi made fast friends with others in the class, particularly those in her writing workshop group, and was always willing to give others feedback and advice to others on their projects throughout the semester.”
Confident and witty, Tejeda loved to laugh and her contagious smile and uplifting spirit made her a breath of fresh air in any room she walked into. Her family describes her as “a student of life.” She had a wide range of interests, passion for travel and exploration, and inquisitive nature, and deeply loved spending time with her partner of more than three years, Courtney Kendall. She also enjoyed gardening and had recently taken up golf. While she was a food connoisseur, tacos and anything Louisiana style were her ultimate favorites.
She also loved asking questions about family history and picking her grandfather’s brain about what his experience was like emigrating from Cuba as a child. While Tejeda remained passionate about history, she recently began considering enrolling in a fire academy after her planned graduation this spring.
She is survived by her mother Jennifer Sanchez; father Jerrod Tejeda; three siblings and two more who are on the way; her four grandparents; and numerous extended family members and friends. The family has established a GoFundMe to assist with funeral expenses and to establish one or more memorials in her name.
A celebration of life will be held at The Gardens at 950 N. J. Street, Tulare, on Tuesday, February 22, at 2 p.m. Tributes and condolences may be made at www.millerchapel.com.
The University flag was lowered in her memory on Friday, February 4.