University Community Celebrates the Lives and Legacies of Two Chargers
Sri Ram Kalidindi '24 and Martin Flores '23 M.A. passed away earlier this winter, and their families, friends, and fellow Chargers came together to remember them and honor their memories.
March 9, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Maurice Cayer, Ph.D., first had Martin Flores '23 M.A. in class last fall, and he has fond memories of the student he remembers as curious and well-liked. He says Flores, a candidate in the University's graduate program in industrial/organizational psychology, was an aspiring professional who loved biking.
Flores died last month following a mountain bike accident at a local state park. The University recently held a celebration of life for Flores and for Sri Ram Kalidindi '24 M.S., who passed away in his off-campus residence in late January. As part of the ceremony, Dr. Cayer shared his memories of Flores.
"What makes losing him so hard was that he was so easy to like and to admire," said Dr. Cayer. "He was a joy to have in the classroom and was hungry to learn. He asked insightful questions. He was highly engaged in discussions. His moderated tone lifted our classes. He connected with his classmates, always smiling, joking around in a supportive way. Martin was an inspiration to us all and truly had so much to offer to the field of psychology."
A native of Wilton, California, Flores's professors described him as someone who was passionate about making a difference. An avid biker, he served as a member of the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-Op's volunteer advisory board. The co-op also hosted a celebration of Flores's his life at their location in New Haven. His older sister, Joanna, spoke as part of the University's celebration.
"I've spent the last week in New Haven, and I've learned he was a bit of a little brother to everyone," she said. "He had so much endearment. He was so playful, always smiling. Please remember him for his smile. Remember him as you graduate as Chargers."
'He wanted to make others smile'
At the ceremony, the University community also remembered and celebrated the life of Kalidindi, who was studying business analytics. Dorothy Classen, international student life advisor, recently spoke with Kalidindi's sister, who shared her memories of growing up with him in southeast India. She described Kalidindi as a "big foodie" who loved chocolate and anything their mother cooked, and who had a great sense of humor.
"He joked that he could never go into medicine because it was too easy for him and he should let others succeed in the field," said Classen, sharing her conversation with Kalidindi's sister as part of the celebration of life event. "His goal was to be independent and create job opportunities for others."
"The memories of how their lives ended will always be bitter, but the memories of them will be sweet."
Sheahon Zenger, Ph.D.
Kalidindi and his sister, who went to school together as kids and took dance classes together, planned to visit Paris together this summer. She described him as "clever and interesting," and someone who cared about others.
"His sister realized how much he'd matured and that he wanted to make others smile and be happy," said Classen. "Most of all, she remembers her brother's smile, and she hopes that we will too."
'Continue to celebrate their lives'
For Sheahon Zenger, Ph.D., interim president of the University, the ceremony was emotional. He shared his own painful experience of losing his older brother, who passed away when he was about the same age as Flores and Kalidindi.
"I remember the minister who stopped by our house and told me these memories would become bittersweet," he said. "At first when I heard that word, I was angry. As the decades have passed, I realized he could not have been more correct. The memories of how their lives ended will always be bitter, but the memories of them will be sweet. Lean into those who love you, and know that we will always be there for you."
Several Chargers, as well as friends and family members of Flores and Kalidindi, shared their memories of them and words of support. Bhavisha Preetam Devnani '26 was among them, offering kind words and her condolences.
"We must hold on to the memories we shared with our friends and continue to celebrate their lives," said Devnani, a business analytics major. "Let us remember contagious smiles, kind hearts, and cheerful attitudes toward life. These memories will help us find comfort on difficult days like these."