UC Berkeley Student Dies In Pakistani Plane Crash

Photo: Misha Dawood
Misha Dawood

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In memory of Misha Dawood

Friends of Misha Dawood share messages and poems for their late friend. Misha, a UC Berkeley student, died in a plane crash on Wednesday.

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UC Berkeley sophomore Misha Dawood, a rising soccer player, dedicated student and advocate for social change in her home country of Pakistan, died Wednesday, when the plane she was traveling on crashed into the foothills outside of Islamabad. She was 19.

The collision, which Pakistani officials are calling the deadliest domestic crash in the country's history, killed all 152 passengers on board the Airblue jet, which was traveling from the southern city of Karachi to the country's capital. According to major media outlets, the cause of the crash remains unknown, though fog and intense rain have been cited as factors.

Dawood - who was called "Maradona" by her teammates, after the famous Argentinian soccer player Diego Maradona - was on her way to join the Diya Football Club for the sixth annual National Women's Football Championship in Islamabad when the plane crashed.

"She was probably one of the most brilliant people I've known," said Kamran Imam, a friend of Dawood's who attended the Karachi American School with her, in an e-mail. "She knew exactly how to make you laugh and no matter what, when you were with her, you'd always be smiling. That was the best thing about her."

Dawood was born Aug. 21, 1990, in Lahore, Pakistan to Zeba and Ghaffar Dawood, according to Maheen Haq, a close friend who also attended the Karachi American School with Dawood. She was one of four children and is survived by her parents, older sister Ayesha, older brother Hamad and younger brother Abdul Samad.

After moving from Lahore to Karachi in the fifth grade, Dawood attended the Karachi American School until ninth grade before moving to the Karachi Grammar School, where she graduated in 2009.

In school, Dawood was a dedicated student and excelled, almost "effortlessly," in academics, according to friends. She was an active leader in student government and athletics, participating in the debate team, competing in the South Asian Inter-Scholastic Association volleyball, soccer and basketball teams and taking part in Model United Nations conferences.

In 2008, Dawood joined Diya Football Club, a national soccer team, after scoring a hat-trick and leading her team in a 6-0 win match against the Sindh Soccerites during the Inter-Club Women's Football championship. This summer, she intended to travel with her parents and siblings, but changed her plans at the last minute to join her team for the championship in Islamabad.

After graduating from the Karachi Grammar School, Dawood came to UC Berkeley, fulfilling a lifelong dream, according to Haq.

"When Misha got into Berkeley, it was like a dream came true for her," Haq said.

Dawood continued to feed her passion for sports in Berkeley, practicing yoga daily and joining the women's lightweight crew team mid-year. As a coxswain, she quickly learned to motivate her teammates and navigate clear of the early-morning ship traffic in the Oakland estuary, despite little experience rowing, according to coach Noah Hume.

"She would arrive in pajamas, sleepy-eyed from a night of studying, and with very little experience, (but she) a brought a fiery 'can do' enthusiasm to the boat," Hume said in an e-mail. "It was a genuine pleasure to share time with her, and we will miss her very much."

An intended geography major, Dawood was an active member of the campus Pakistani Student Association and showed great interest in Southeast Asian studies, said UC Berkeley senior Sana Naeem. Dawood was well-informed about Pakistan's political troubles and intended to finish her degree in three years, return to her home to and make a "palpable difference to underprivileged people in her country," Naeem said.

"What was beautiful about Misha was that she wasn't jaded," said recent graduate Sharmi Doshi. "She was a very graceful, dignified, elegant person - humble and down to earth. She wanted to believe in the good in the world. She honestly believed that one person could make a difference. It was something that was just phenomenal about her."


Contact Aaida Samad at [email protected]

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