The Cal Poly Pomona community remains in a state of shock just days after the passing of one of its own.
Ivan Arturo Aguilar, a 21-year old communication student, was riding his bike to class at 12:45 p.m. on Thursday when he was struck by a southbound vehicle on Kellogg Drive.
Authorities arrived at the scene minutes after the accident was reported and Aguilar was transported to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Students and professors in the Communication Department are reflecting on what was a tragic event, but will remember Aguilar as a loving, caring person who always took the extra step to put others before him.
Friends of Aguilar said the aspiring journalist was always there to pick them up – sometimes even literally.
While on a field trip to ABC 7 Studios in Glendale with Communication professor Rebecca Franko’s Videography class, Aguilar was the one lending a helping hand to Franko, who tripped and fell outside the building.
Franko reflected on a recent memory of Aguilar, who she described as “quietly responsible” and a “good team player” in her experience with him.
“He had come down to my office earlier this quarter and just popped his head in – and he had been so quiet he didn’t often come talk to me on his own – and he said, ‘I just wanted to tell you how much I liked your class and how much I learned,’ and that was really nice,” said Franko. “You don’t always get that feedback. That meant something to me.”
If the campus’ reaction in the days since the accident is any indication, Aguilar “meant something” to a lot of people.
The outpouring of love and support materialized on Facebook, where friends and family posted messages of warmth and photos of their fallen friend. More than 500 people have pledged their attendance at the Ivan Aguilar Memorial Bike Ride, which will take place on Thursday during U-Hour.
The Communication Department is hosting an informal gathering today during U-Hour, behind Building 1 to remember Aguilar.
Communication professor Jane Ballinger, the one responsible for spearheading the gathering, had Aguilar in her Desktop Publishing class this quarter and described the impact of his passing on the department.
“I think it’s devastating for the department because we are very close,” said Ballinger. “Our students know the students in their classes, and certainly I talked to the faculty [on Friday] and everyone was very saddened. Our department isn’t anonymous because our classes are generally relatively small and our students interact lot. I think that makes it extra hard.”
Aguilar had made many friends in the department, particularly during his time with The Poly Post.
Aguilar and Oscar Marin, a fifth-year communication student, joined the student newspaper’s writing staff at the same time, solidifying a bond that had been built years prior. The two had multiple Communication classes together, shared a love of soccer and got along well.
Marin was in the 1 p.m. Communication Research class to which Aguilar was headed when he the accident occurred. On his way to the class, Marin passed by the scene and saw a motionless body lying in the street. Not drawing a parallel between the accident and Aguilar’s absence in class, Marin was floored when he realized what had happened.
Marin spoke poignantly about Aguilar and his colossal capacity to care, pointing to the length of Aguilar’s hair in particular. Aguilar was in the middle of growing out his hair with the intention of donating it.
“[Aguilar] was a down-to-Earth guy,” said Marin. “He cared a lot about his family and about other people. He never was a selfish kind of person. He was someone who you could just go and talk to, a really humble person. He was the type of person who was always willing to put others ahead of himself.”
Andre Karimloo, a fifth-year communication student who played intramural soccer with Aguilar and worked together with him for the student newspaper, described the empty feeling he felt when he heard the grim news, stressing the importance of cherishing friendships.
“[Aguilar] was a nice guy who really cared about people,” said Karimloo. “Anytime he saw me on campus – whether he was walking or on his bike – he would make an effort to stop or to say hello or ask how I was. He was very compassionate and I think we can all learn from that and take more time to appreciate the friends we do have. We can take those couple minutes to finish the conversation we’re having. You never know when a good friend is going to leave you.”
To help Aguilar’s family with funeral costs, donations are being collected at http://www.giveforward.com/helpingivanaguilar.