In Memory of Nick Leslie: Victory of the People Scholarship
On July 14, 2016, UC Berkeley undergraduate student Nicolas Leslie was unexpectedly taken from his loving family and community during the ISIS terrorist attack in Nice, France. His parents Conrad and Paola Leslie’s hearts are broken and the depth of their sorrow is unimaginable, yet their love for Nick continues to grow each day. They honor the memory of their son with the Victory of the People Scholarship to provide support for undergraduate students enrolled in Berkeley Study Abroad programs at UC Berkeley.
Nicolas was a bright shining spirit and those who knew him will tell you that he would light up the room that he would enter. He believed that many difficult decisions in life could be narrowed down to two options: either sit down and do nothing or get up and make it happen. For someone so young, he had a thoughtful understanding of life, compassion, and tolerance. He once wrote that having been exposed to many different cultures and mindsets, he had learned to never be too quick to judge others for one never knows the reasons and motivations that drive people to act as they do.
Nicolas was a dual United States and Italian citizen. He was fluent in Italian, loved soccer, and enjoyed cooking authentic Italian dishes. He made a succulent seafood pasta using fresh wild caught lobsters that he would catch by hand while free diving off his local reef in Del Mar, California. Through his travels, he learned to view food not just as nutrition, but as a way to experience different cultures. He loved sharing long meals and laughs with friends.
Nicolas had a passion for the ocean from a very young age. He started SCUBA diving at the age of nine, and kite surfing when he was ten years old, becoming a master diver and certified kite surfing instructor by the age of 18. He had tons of fun while growing up, but most of all he enjoyed being surrounded by friends. He had an ability to bring groups of people together from different backgrounds. He would go out of his way to include everyone and made sure that his friends, and everyone around him, had a great time. He continues to inspire others to reach out beyond barriers, think beyond boundaries, and do extraordinary things.
He was extremely excited to be part of UC Berkeley, a university that is known for its history with social and environmental activism. Coming on to campus as a freshman, he joined an organization and got involved. He was accepted into the Net Impact Consulting group at Cal during his freshman year. For his first project, his team worked with an up and coming food related company that had a mission to introduce nutritiously dense food to impoverished countries. His team was tasked with developing marketing and distribution strategies. He was extremely happy with his effort since It truly felt that he was accomplishing meaningful work that could help improve the lives of others. The consulting-based work at Net Impact changed his focus of study from environmental science to business. Although he was still very passionate about the environment, he became fascinated with business, finance, and consulting.
He applied and was accepted in the Haas School of Business on his sophomore year. Although he was now on a business focused career path, he was still determined to work with the environment and planned on earning a double mayor in business and environmental economics. He wanted to use his skills in economics and finance to create a greater positive impact.
Nicolas was grateful for all that he had and would perform random acts of kindness for his friends and strangers. He had a passion for social justice and was an advocate for the underdog. He was a conscientious young man full of energy and eager to create a net impact on the planet. In his two years at Berkeley, Nicolas blossomed into a loving young man with incredible capabilities and limitless opportunities. Nick worked hard to succeed at Berkeley, and had a great time doing so. He was confident without being arrogant. He was on track to reach his goals and achieve his dreams. Before he left to Nice, he told his father “Dad you don’t have to worry about me. I am at UC Berkeley, in one of the best consulting group in school (NET IMPACT), one of the best social fraternity (Phi Gamma Delta / FIJI), and just made it into Haas.” Things could not get any better.
He was having the best time of his life studying abroad in Nice, France. He was surrounded by friends, eating good food, and exploring new places while learning how to develop a start-up business. He was determined to learn as much as possible, meet many people, and experience life to the fullest. On his last night on earth, Nick strolled down the Promenade des Anglais in Nice with the confidence of a young man on top of the world looking up in the sky towards the Bastille Day celebration fireworks. His confidence came from knowing that he had made it to the top university, had friends and family that loved him so much, and had a clear path to a bright future.
The name Nicolas means “Victory of the People.”We believe that the people will be victorious and prevail over terror and hate even if it’s one person at a time. We can raise consciousness when we meet new people with a open heart, travel abroad with an open mind, interchange ideas without insisting on our believes, and propose options / solutions that bring us together as opposed to driving us apart. This Victory of the People memorial helps bring students from around the world closer together. The students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and by better exposing our students to other cultures, traditions and lifestyles abroad, they become noble leaders that will help make this world a better place.