In Memoriam: James Sabourin, 1964-2009

October 15, 2009

James Sabourin, the Heller School's long-time director of international admissions, died October 15, 2009, after a brief battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Jim was 45 years old.

As long time Director for International Admissions and Recruitment at the Heller School, Jim traveled untold thousands of miles to represent the programs in Sustainable International Development (SID) with scholarship organizations and at recruitment meetings. He was respected and effective in his work with such groups as the the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program, the Soros Foundation, The Joint Japan - World Bank Scholarship Program and the Fulbright Program among others. He was an articulate advocate for our programs and made a tremendous contribution to hundreds and hundreds of young professionals from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

"Jim will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues at the Sustainable International Development Program and within the Heller School," said Laurence Simon, Professor and Director of the SID Programs. "For many international students at SID, Jim's voice carried the promise of a scholarship to graduate education. He was often the first person students met upon their arrival at Logan International airport as he believed that a warm smile and help with luggage was the way to greet new students and friends. We still can't believe that he is gone."

In announcing Jim's passing, Heller Dean Lisa Lynch said, "I know that it will be hard to process Jim's loss. But I also know that his spirit will live on in the hallways of Heller, especially through the many accomplishments of our students that he worked so hard to bring to Heller."

Jim was a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross after which he served in Gabon with the U.S. Peace Corps. In more recent years, he used his vacation time to monitor elections in countries with emerging democracies including Moldova, Kazakhstan, Bosnia, Albania, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan.

Tributes from Heller students

"Jim had a booming warmth you could feel a mile away. He was one of the first people I met at SID--and someone I would come to rely upon with questions throughout my time in the program. He was a giving soul with a huge smile who would greet you across campus. His keen sense of humor, his drive to help students, and his commitment to development were all evident in word and deed. Jim will be sorely missed."--Elizabeth Petheo, MA '06

"I appreciated James for his amicable nature and sense of humor. He was such a wonderful person, always ready to listen and lend a hand, and never failed to give a word of encouragement. I will surely miss him and will continue to pray for him."--Padma Buggineni, MA '05

"I had the pleasure of working for and with Jim at the Admissions Office for about a year. I got to know him initially as director of admissions, then boss, then colleague, and finally as a friend. I am glad to have known and worked with him. This is a huge loss for all of us at Heller, where Jim worked tirelessly, year after year, to build the great community that Heller prides itself in. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to all who worked with Jim, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family."--Gaurav Katwal, MA '10

"I was in Kyrgyzstan when I received an email from James that I was accepted to the Heller School. Then James sent me other detailed information. Then he met me at the airport. James had a great impact in creating a nurturing and family environment at Heller that helped foreign students to adapt to a new place. He was very, very kind, very supportive, and always smiling. He left his imprint in the hearts and memories of all students at the Heller School."--Aijan Ukudeeva, MS '05

Scholarship in his honor

To honor Jim and his service to humanity, Heller has created the James Sabourin Scholarship for Sustainable International Development (SID) and is seeking funds with which to award current use scholarships to SID students. Contributions big and small are being received from colleagues, friends, students and alumni.

Each year the scholarship will be awarded to a young professional from an African country applying to the Master of Arts in Sustainable International Development program.

Donations may be sent to: James Sabourin Scholarship Fund, c/o Doris Breay, Brandeis University, 415 South Street, Heller School - MS 035, Waltham, MA 02454.

Click here to see the Boston Globe obituary and details about funeral arrangements.

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