A UC Santa Barbara alumna died on July 29 in her Santa Barbara home. She was 22 years old.
Kelly Pearman was born on April 9, 1995. She graduated from UCSB in June with a degree in political science, and belonged to the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, Associated Students (A.S.) and worked on orientation staff during her time at UCSB.
She participated in UCDC during the fall of her senior year and had plans to move to Washington D.C. to pursue a career in politics.
Friends said Pearman was a dedicated student and hard worker, but was always able to strike the balance between academics and making time for friends.
“She never shied away from taking responsibility, yet outside of work or school she was friendly, animated, and a wildly fun person to be around,” said Isabelle Ninh, Pearman’s friend and housemate.
Kimia Hashemian, a former A.S. Internal Vice President, said Pearman dedicated time to A.S. as a fellow and an off-campus senator, but also loved spending time with friends enjoying Isla Vista and its sunsets.
“Kelly loved Isla Vista,” added Emani Oakley, who also met Pearman through A.S. “So when I imagine Kelly, I imagine her in that environment.”
Oakley and Pearman bonded while taking Political Science 15. Oakley and Pearman would study together in a “support group” with study breaks including episodes of “Scandal,” one of Pearman’s favorite shows.
Oakley said her friendship with Pearman was “natural” and came easily.
“She really had such a strong presence. You would be around her and you would just feel better,” Oakley said, adding that despite the academic rigor, Pearman made Political Science 15 a more enjoyable course.
Pearman loved pizza and Oakley said they dined at Pizza My Heart at least once a week to talk about their day.
“I want to remember her sitting in a booth at Pizza My Heart telling stories, because she was always really good at telling stories and she always had the best stories to tell,” Oakley said.
Gabriela Turner was Pearman’s “big sister” in Kappa Kappa Gamma and said Pearman was an unconditionally loyal friend. A “Big” generally acts as a guide for their Little in a sorority, but Turner said Pearman was usually the one looking out for her.
Ninh echoed the sentiment, saying Pearman was constantly watching out for her friends — even at a music festival like Coachella.
“She was always checking in on everyone — even strangers — offering water, asking to see if we needed to eat or sit down,” Ninh said.
Pearman enjoyed listening to a wide variety of genres, including country and electronic dance music. She went to Coachella twice and planned to go to HARD Summer Music Festival this year.
Pearman was attentive to her friends and provided them a comfort and solace, even as they dealt with worries about graduation and beyond.
“I would talk to her and we would have a heart-to-heart about the things we wanted for our lives and things we were really grateful for,” Oakley said..
Pearman impacted her friends’ lives by being present — from senior pictures to birthday brunches. As many friends reflect on their own time at UCSB, they recognize that Pearman was a vital part of it all.
“When I think about my best days in Santa Barbara — warm, sunny weather, a refreshing breeze, the beach behind me, friends by my side — I think of Kelly Pearman,” Ninh said.
“She was just there to have fun, and she did,” Hashemian added. “Never a dull moment with her. We are all so lucky to have known her.”
Pearman’s family started a UCSB memorial scholarship in her name. Donations can be sent to the UCSB Parents Fund.
A memorial for Pearman will be held on August 13 at her former home in Isla Vista.