Recent Gevirtz Graduate School of Education Ph.D. recipient Sugely Ubaldo Chaidez died in Dallas, Texas on Jan. 5 from bacterial meningitis.
Chaidez was born March 5, 1981 in Durango, Mexico and spent her childhood in South Gate, Calif. She graduated from UC San Diego in 2003 with a degree in Human Development and minors in Health Care Social Issues and Spanish Literature.
Her academic career at UCSB was focused on cultural perspectives and comparative education and she worked extensively with Dr. Richard Duran to examine the educational trends of Hispanic students.
After graduating last June, Chaidez successfully defended her dissertation in December and completed her Ph.D.
“[Chaidez’s] work was framed by a more general theory of how students developed their personal identities as they moved from high school to college with particular attention to how students are mature as community members,” Duran said. “[She was] concerned not only with their own accomplishments, but with how they can help their communities develop.”
Sugely was the program coordinator of the Parent-Children Computers Project, site coordinator for the Santa Barbara Pathways Homework Club at Dos Pueblos High School and director of Health and Advocacy programs at the Diabetes Resource Center in Carpinteria. She also spent her summers as a resource specialist for the Youth Enrichment Adventure Program.
M. Belen Bernal, Chaidez’s childhood friend and UCSB alumna, said Chaidez lived her life fully and made well-being a priority.
“I would say, in Sugley’s own words, that she would desire that everyone be blessed and live a life with faith, love, happiness and health,” Bernal said. “One thing I can say is that, ever since we were young, she was big on priorities and always defined what priorities were in her life, which allowed her to be really productive and touch so many people throughout her journey with us.”
Chaidez is survived by her husband, Alberto Ubaldo. Friend and former colleague Graciela Fernandez said Chaidez committed care and passion to the relationship.
“[Sugely] married her longtime boyfriend of six years,” Hernandez said. “They maintained a long distance relationship while she was doing graduate school and their relationship was very strong, [and] based on love and communication.”
According to Hernandez, the death was unexpected.
“She had absolutely no symptoms,” Hernandez said. “She was perfectly healthy and within 24 hours she had passed. Meningitis is a very strong bacteria.”
Jane Close Conoley, dean of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, said the community is still recovering from the shock of Chaidez’s sudden death.
“Her untimely death stuns and saddens us all and recalls the preciousness of every minute of life — especially a life lived with purpose and enriched by friendship and accomplishments for others. Our deepest sympathy goes to her family,” she said.
Bernal said she takes solace in the fact that Chaidez’s message lives on.
“It’s very ironic,” Bernal said. “It’s a huge loss but we must continue to survive her by implementing some of the things that we may already have in lives and reflecting on that.”