Alliant International Honors Student Killed in Ukrainian Jetliner Crash

Saadat, her mother and her sister were returning from visiting family in Iran when the jet crashed

Sara Saadat
Facebook/Sara Saadat

Classmates paid tribute Tuesday to a San Diego college student who was aboard a Ukrainian jetliner that was shot down during rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran earlier this month.

Sara Saadat, a Canadian student at Alliant International University in Scripps Ranch, was among the 176 people killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was accidentally struck by Iranian anti-aircraft missiles on Jan. 8.

Saadat, her mother and her sister were returning from visiting family in Iran when the jet was shot down. She was set to return to San Diego for her clinical psychology program's spring term, a spokesperson for Alliant International University said.

NBC News’ affiliate CBC reported Saadat graduated from the University of Alberta in May 2019 and had been accepted into Alliant International University.

NBC 7's Erika Cervantes spoke to her professors at Alliant International University who said they are devastated.

At a memorial at the college Tuesday afternoon, Saadat's brother Armin Collosi announced the foundation of the Sara Saadat Memorial Scholarship.

"I'm here to remind everyone that we are connected to one another in some way, and that the actions we take, no matter how small, have an impact across the world," Collosi said.

Saadat was studying to become a doctor and follow in her mother's footsteps, according to Collosi. He said his sister believed in LGBTQ equality and wanted to give herself to the movement, and was doing so despite ideological conflicts between the movement and the Muslim faith.

"She was looking for a way to understand being Muslim and then giving back to that community at the same time. There was a struggle there, and so she looked for trying to understand that and figure out why there is a struggle there, at least within that community," Collosi said.

In a Facebook post, Alliant International University said they were offering support to students following the tragedy.

“We know that the entire Alliant community is affected when tragedy strikes any one of us, and we are here to provide support during these trying times,” the university wrote in its social media post.

Alliant International University said it will provide on-site counseling for students when classes resume “next week.”

The plane crash came just a few hours after Iran launched a ballistic attack against Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops in its violent confrontation with Washington over the U.S. drone strike that killed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general.

For days after the Jan. 8 shootdown, Iran denied that it fired missiles at the plane, initially blaming a technical malfunction and engine fire for the crash.

However, after the U.S. and Canada blamed missile fire for the crash, Iran's armed forces said anti-aircraft fire from the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard had downed the flight.

The crash ranked among the worst losses of life for Canadians in an aviation disaster.

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