In the wake of graduate student Arthur Arzola’s tragic death, the University of La Verne held a remembrance service Wednesday evening to honor and celebrate his brief, yet impactful life.
Loving family, friends, colleagues, classmates and other members of the community filled Morgan Auditorium for the solemn service, where a few significant members of Mr. Arzola’s life shared memories and kind words.
“I want to acknowledge the beauty of so many who are gathered here to honor Art’s life,” said University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner. “We are creating a sacred space, large enough to hold our grief and our memories and our questions, and also large enough to bring us moment of peace, and moments of praise, and moments even of laughter.”
Mr. Arzola, 26, was the first victim identified out of the 10 people who died in the college tour bus crash last Thursday near Orland, Calif.
He was accompanying a group high school students from the Los Angeles area to Humboldt State University when a FedEx truck collided with the charter bus, causing an explosion and many injuries among the deaths.
Mr. Arzola was a graduate student at the University of La Verne, pursuing his master’s in educational counseling and people personnel services credential.
His diploma will be presented to his wife, La Verne alumna Krystle (Barbosa) Arzola, and his family during this year’s spring commencement May 31.
Bob Hansen, a professor of education in the Educational Counseling program, spoke about a meeting he had with Mr. Arzola three weeks ago, where they talked about his final Masters project as well as his “intense love” for his wife and family, and his faith.
“I believe God needed Art for another mission – perhaps being an admissions counselor in heaven,” Hansen said. “We could only hope he is on duty when we seek to gain admission.”
Mr. Arzola was born Dec. 28, 1987 in Monterey Park.
As a hardworking student who took his education very seriously, he began his leadership as the student body president for his middle school.
In the eighth grade, he was selected as a delegate in the Inland Empire Future Leaders, where he later became the co-assistant director for the program.
It was at that program where he discovered his passion for education and serving first-generation, low-income and disadvantaged students.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cal State San Bernardino, Mr. Arzola worked at Destination College Advising Corps through UC Berkeley.
At that program, he was placed to serve as a college adviser at Arroyo Valley High School.
Janice Sewell, a classmate and friend from the graduate program, had a majority of her educational counseling classes with Mr. Arzola.
Sewell said she asked many of his friends to describe him in one word. Though most of them could not choose just one word, the one that came up the most was genuine.
“His beautiful smile is what I’ll remember probably more than anything,” Sewell said.
Mr. Arzola’s intense love for his wife was brought up multiple times by the speakers at the service.
He and Krystle Arzola married back in July 2012 while he was still at La Verne.
“(Krystle Arzola) smiled bigger, glowed a lot more, and laughed a lot louder,” said Stephanie Garcia, Krystle Arzola’s longtime friend and sorority sister from Iota Delta.
“It was as if she had finally become whole. She finally found her other half.”
Mr. Arzola also cared deeply about his family, especially his brothers.
“My brother was the best big brother that you could ever ask for,” said Alfonso David Arzola, the youngest brother.
“He was always there for me, through everything I went through in my life.”
Alfonso David Arzola worked with his oldest brother at In-N-Out.
Mr. Arzola not only mentored his brother in the workplace, but he also advised him on how to apply to college, apply for financial aid, and more.
“I loved him with all my heart,” Alfonso David Arzola said. “Even when I didn’t believe in myself, my brother was there.”
At the end of his speech, Alfonso David Arzola looked up, and once more proclaimed his love for his brother.
“And ‘till we’re together again, my big brother,” he said.
Mr. Arzola, lovingly known as “Tury” to his family, is survived by his wife, Krystle; his mother, Patricia Arzola; his father, Arthur Arzola, Sr.; and his brothers, James Arzola and Alfonso David Arzola.
A public memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier.
A memorial fund in Mr. Arzola’s name has been established to raise money for funeral costs and a possible scholarship.
Donations can be made to gofundme.com/89fsu8.
Kristina Bugante can be reached at email@example.com.