Ariyan Malekpourshirazi reaching out for the camera. Ana Maritza Sanchez/Courtesy
Ariyan Malekpourshirazi was a 22-year-old Saddleback College student who unexpectedly lost his life on Oct. 16. Malekpourshirazi aspired to be an electrical engineer and he also planned to minor in psychology. During the spring semester of 2019, Malekpourshirazi joined the Saddleback Lariat staff as editor in chief, where he contributed many unique pieces of work.
One of his stories, published April 17, 2019, titled “Lucky Charlie,” delves into Malekpourshirazi’s friendship with a homeless man and how the man saved his life. During his first interaction with Charlie, Malekpourshirazi shares that “he has shown me a lot and opened my eyes in many ways,” then continues to describe Charlie’s character, values, hardships and lifestyle as a homeless man.
Before attending Saddleback, Malekpourshirazi started in University High School before transferring to Aliso Viejo High School. As he moved from school to school, he eventually found himself at a Virginia boarding school and ultimately earned a GED. Malekpourshirazi’s high school days were finally behind him, as he never felt like he could embody himself within the high school culture.
“He was definitely a scholar, and didn’t easily accept information that was fed to him,” said Ana Maritza Sanchez, Malekpourshirazi’s girlfriend, in an email. “He loved to challenge ideas and make others question what they [knew] and accepted.”
Ariyan Malekpourshirazi and Ana Maritza Sanchez posing together in a selfie. Ana Maritza Sanchez/Courtesy
Sanchez also shared that Malekpourshirazi was proud of who he was on the inside and out, including his Iranian heritage. He grew up with his mother, Sara Mansouri, and his stepdad. He also worked full time in quality assurance for three years with Holt Integrated Circuits in Mission Viejo.
“Ariyan had a lot of hobbies,” Sanchez said in an email. “He loved to cruise around on his skateboard. He loved to watch youtube documentaries and learn new things. He loved history and geography and politics. He was always learning something new, and he loved sharing his knowledge with everyone around him.”
Sarah Gordon, a former Lariat staff member who worked alongside Malekpourshirazi, shared some insight on her time spent with him and how he truly inspired others with his ideas and stories.
“I worked with Ariyan on the Lariat newspaper in the spring of 2019,” Gordan said in an email. “Although I only knew him for a short time his impact on me was positive and lasting. He was so kind and truly an incredible writer. I really appreciated his writing as it was real, raw, and unapologetic.”
Jacob Bates, another former staff member, remembers time spent with Malekpourshirazi very clearly.
“He had a lot of ideas that seemed bizarre or crazy to the majority of the staff, yet they ended up being interesting pieces,” Bates said in an email. “There was one where he went and hiked part of the pacific crest trail with a man who was planning to travel the entire distance of it on foot. Ariyan stood out from the rest of us, not in a bad way, it just seemed like he really cared about being an individual, which I admire quite a bit.”
Ariyan Malekpourshirazi sitting on a chair. Ana Maritza Sanchez/Courtesy
Malekpourshirazi passed away on Oct. 16. A memorial was held for Ariyan at Ridgecrest Park on Oct. 21.
Correction: An earlier version of this article included the incorrect date of when Ariyan Malekpourshirazi passed away.