There have been countless articles and divisive arguments surrounding the recent shooting in Isla Vista near the University of California, Santa Barbara. The ongoing chatter, editorials, analysis, soapboxing and trending hashtags are drowning out what’s most important here… the innocent victims, who include two young women whose lives were filled with promise, but abruptly ended.
Katie Cooper, 22, a senior, and Veronika Weiss, 19, a freshman, both sisters of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, were among the six victims who were tragically and senselessly murdered last Friday.
Reading through interviews with family and friends and the hundreds of sympathy notes posted on Facebook and Twitter, we’ve come to learn more about these two extraordinary women.
By sharing a small glimpse into who they were, and the lives they impacted, we hope to give Katie and Veronika the honor and recognition they so deserve. As UC President Janet Napolitano said, “… it’s important that we do not let the arithmetic of this atrocity define them.”
Katie grew up in The Chino Hills, CA and attended Ruben S. Ayala High School in 2010. A University of California, Santa Barbara senior, she was just weeks away from graduating with a degree in art history.
She was a talented athlete, playing soccer and running track. Katie was also a gifted dancer and according to friends, she was “the kind of girl that brought sunshine on an overcast day.”
“A lot of us remember her as someone that was very caring, very kind. She was very strong in her personality … Everywhere she went, she left an impression. People just loved her.”
“Katie was so kind-hearted, gentle, sweet — just the most completely selfless, completely compassionate person I have ever met. If you needed something, she was always there. No matter what, she would always be there by your side.”
“Katie was a young, beautiful, person with a lifetime of greatness ahead of her. Our family and the world are robbed of watching her do amazing things.”
“I wish we had been closer, but the moments we spent together were enough for me to recognize her beautiful heart.”
“We will celebrate Katie’s life…like she lived it, to the fullest.”
Veronika was a standout water polo player at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, CA before starting her freshman year at University of California, Santa Barbara. Veronika was a self-proclaimed geek and had just ended her freshman year with a 4.0 gpa.
“It hit me hard when I realized that I would never get to talk to her or waive to her or laugh at her jokes again. All I can say before I go on a rant about misogyny and guns is that I have learned the value of someone else’s smile, laugh, aura, and personality as a whole. I won’t talk about the actual shooting or the shooter or how angry/upset the whole situation has made me. Because all of the victims of this incident (and that includes the wounded and the family and friends of the victims) deserve to hear more of their loved ones than the man that took them.”
“When I first met Veronika, I remember this bubbly girl bouncing into the room with a smile on her face, trying to sell tickets to a fundraiser her sorority was having that week. We chatted for a bit after my friends left and I eventually promised to buy a ticket and we exchanged numbers. I never did buy that ticket. After that, Veronika would always greet me by name and shoot me the most radiant smile whenever she saw me. We’d run into each other a lot, and she always made me feel like she was overjoyed to see me even though we barely knew each other.”
“Veronika loved her life here, and she didn’t mind showing it. She was always happy to meet new people, always warm and inclusive. Veronika represented the best face of Isla Vista. She was never one to shun someone because of their appearance or their background, but was always the sweet, welcoming face that drew you into the community.”
“I am the instructor for a course in which Veronika is enrolled this quarter. I use the ‘present tense’ because even though she is deceased, she still appears on my roster of students. In a class of 152 students, she was a standout as someone engaged, confident, capable, eager to learn, and willing to work hard.”
“She was fierce, and her presence in all of our lives will be desperately missed.”