Aly Lakdawala lived for others.
The double-diploma graduate — he earned degrees international studies and philosophy — traveled to Costa Rica after his May 1 graduation to volunteer at an orphanage and work with a biologist on a turtle conservation project. This, however, isn’t unusual.
“He dedicated his life to helping others and his passion for service really shined through on our trip to Costa Rica,” said economics major Courtney Eagan. She was also on the Costa Rica trip, which was hosted through the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.
Taking a break from his volunteer work, Lakdawala, 21, with Eagan and two other students went swimming in the Pacific Ocean. After a riptide hit the group, Eagan and the other two students went with the current and were able to return, but Lakdawala was pulled from the shore.
He was reported missing Saturday. His body was found Tuesday.
Roommate Jose Pizarro expressed his grief, but was assured that Lakdawala had died happy.
“I remember one night we came up with ‘You either die having fun, or you live long enough to see yourself forget what fun is,'” he said. “And I am sure he died having fun — Doing what he loved, with people he loved.”
Friends remember Lakdawala as a person who lived life to the fullest, while giving what he could to others.
Lakdawala’s effort to make those around him happy extended beyond his volunteer work. One night, he was celebrating a friend’s birthday at the Tampa piano bar, Howl at the Moon. No one wanted to sing, but he convinced two friends to join him for a karaoke Journey song.
“He pushed me to do things I was too nervous to do,” Pizarro said.
Anthony Phillips, a psychology major, knew Lakdawala for three years. Phillips said that during a tough time in his life, Lakdawala and his roommates welcomed him.
“That was just a testament of how he was and the people he surrounded himself with,” Phillips said. “We are all like family and that is purely because of Aly and the love he showered his friends with.”
Michelle Barkoviak, who graduated in 2007, said some of Lakdawala’s best qualities were his sense of humor and storytelling ability.
“He could make you laugh at the stupidest things. Laughter and jokes are so welcoming and I know that’s how he made a lot of his friends,” she said. “His smile brightened up a room and you would never feel left out because he made sure to include everyone in his conversations and stories.”
Alexander Levine, associate professor of philosophy, last met with Lakdawala in March when he was double-checking his degree requirements.
“I remember Aly fondly as an intelligent, motivated student, who graduated with flying colors at the end of the spring,” Levine said in an e-mail from Argentina where he is teaching for the summer.
Lakdawala wanted to go to law school at the University of Miami, Eagan said.
“We both planned on taking the LSAT and even joked around about owning a firm together,” she said.
Friends said Lakdawala had a lot of school spirit.
“He was always at the football games, basketball games, baseball games — anything he could go to, he was there,” said Felicia Ciucio, a childhood education major.
Lakdawala rarely missed a home game.
“We traveled the country to watch many different games,” Pizarro said. “I know he will never miss another game again. And when I sit in the stands, he will be on my mind.”