Local News

NC State creates scholarship fund in honor of Chapel Hill shooting victims

Posted February 20, 2015 12:16 p.m. EST
Updated February 20, 2015 4:02 p.m. EST

Deah Shaddy Barakat, left, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha

— North Carolina State University has established a scholarship fund in honor of three Muslim students fatally shot in Chapel Hill last week. 

Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were found dead on Feb. 10 at the newlywed couple's home. A neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder.

Police said the shootings appear to be the result of a long-running dispute over parking spaces at the condominium complex where Hicks and the victims lived, but relatives of the victims have called for an investigation of their deaths as a hate crime.

Barakat graduated with honors from N.C. State in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He was attending dentistry school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His wife graduated from N.C. State last fall with a bachelor’s in biological sciences. She had recently been accepted into the UNC dentistry program. Razan Abu-Salha was a sophomore in N.C. State's College of Design, majoring in architecture.

The "Our Three Winners" scholarship endowment will provide annual support to students in N.C. State's Poole College of Management, College of Sciences and College of Design, the university announced Friday. 

The university is contributing funds to launch the program and is seeking donations from alumni and the community. 

"Deah, Yusor and Razan exemplified the best of N.C. State and will forever serve as role models for our student body," Chancellor Randy Woodson said Friday. "Each was not only an outstanding student, but individually and as a family lived their lives bringing joy to others, helping those in need and making the world a better place."

Scholarship recipients will be selected based on their demonstration of leadership, service and creativity.

"This is the first blessing and the first happy day after the tragedy, and it means a lot to us," said the sisters' father, Mohammad Abu-Salha. "Nothing is more awesome than supporting scholars on an annual basis to come here and study if they couldn't afford it and just exemplify the same things that these children lived."

"Out of this horrendous tragedy, these incredible scholarships will continue to provide education for so many people for so much time to come," said Barakat's sister, Suzanne Barakat. "You have made his dream come true."

Woodson cited the "tremendous difference" the students made in the community and across the globe. The three raised money to help Syrian refugees in Turkey, were helping build an Interfaith Habitat for Humanity home in Wake County and, just a week prior to their deaths, helped feed the homeless in downtown Durham. 

Gifts to the “Our Three Winners” Scholarship Fund can be made through the university's website.