Two students honored during Celebration of Life


Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Charlotte Bassett.

Tyler Anthony speaks to the crowd, West haven, March 2, 2023.

Soft music filled the room as people gathered in the Beckerman Recreation Center to reflect on the two lives recently taken from the university’s graduate student community. The music faded and in its place the voices that took to the podium began to fill the room in a celebration of their lives.

The Rec Center was filled to honor the lives of Sri Ram Kalidindi who died on Jan. 31 and Martin Flores who died on Feb. 24.

Nicole Harry, a senior biology major, gave words before chanting a set of Hindi mantras for the crowd. She said, “Although the vessel sheds its life –– its vitality –– the person who took on that vessel; their soul, their good deeds, lives on for eternity.”

Taking to the podium at the start of the ceremony, their contributions laid down the framework for a strong integration of culture into the afternoon.

Afterward, campus Chaplain Martin O’Connor prayed for the two lives being celebrated.

Dorothy Classen, an international student life advisor, spoke on behalf of Mr. Kalidindi’s sister Sadhana, with whom she spoke on the phone prior. She shared her brother’s personal interests and provided a lens into his life at home.

“Sri Ram would purposely schedule his return home the day after his sister, and always first thing in the morning, he wanted to wake her up and gently taunt her to say ‘welcome back,’” Classen read on account of the sibling’s memory.

Mr. Kalidindi had a goal to start his own business and create “hundreds of job opportunities for others.”

Classen said that Kalidindi “remembers her brother’s smile and hopes that we will too.”

The Indian Student Council (ISC) also spoke in remembrance of Mr. Kalidindi, with president Surabhi Shreekant Nagraj, a graduate business administration student, calling him a “bright light in our community.”

Despite only having connection to Mr. Kalidindi, the ISC executive board directed their grievances to the families and friends of both students.

Mo Cayer, distinguished lecturer at the university, spoke in memorial of Mr. Flores, as a professor who was deeply impacted by his presence. Cayer called his smile a “permanent fixture on his face.”

Cayer opened up about “Martin moments,” speaking about how he had a “knack for de-stressing people with his humor.”

Mr. Flores had a love for biking, as was touched upon repeatedly throughout the ceremony.

Biking held a high level of importance in Mr. Flores’ life, so much so that the shop manager of Bradley Street Bicycle Co-Op, Tyler Anthony, spoke at the ceremony.

He stood at the podium emotional for some time before making way through his speech.

“Martin was very good at bringing people together,” Anthony said. “He could turn strangers into friends and friends into new family members.”

He also opened up in reflection of just two weeks prior to Mr. Flores’ death, saying that “at the time my biggest fear was that he would move away and that’s how I would lose him, and this is so much worse.”

Bradley Street Bicycle held their own gathering in honor of Mr. Flores last Friday.

Mr. Flores’ older sister Joanna also took to the podium to reflect on his life and open up to those in attendance.

She said that “he is my baby brother, but as I’ve spent the last week here in New Haven, I’ve gotten to learn that he was a bit of a little brother to everyone.”

Flores asked everyone to “remember him on your bike rides and at New Haven coffee shops. Remember him in every dog that you pet, and please tell them they are all good dogs; he would want that.”

Lightning McQueen was a favorite movie character of his, and following a reading of one of his most iconic quotes, Flores ended with “kachow Martin, we love you.”