As a tribute to their son’s love for geography, Nick Bourdakis’ parents decided to donate memorial contributions toward a student scholarship for undergraduates in the UCSB Geography Dept.

The Nicholas Bourdakis Memorial Scholarship, totaling approximately $25,000, will be distributed to students in the department who exhibit outstanding efforts or research. Although the specifics of the award have not been determined, Geography Dept. undergraduate advisor Robin Johnson said the first award would be given out next year.

Anthony and Patricia Bourdakis, Nick’s parents, said their son changed his major from engineering to geography only two weeks before last year’s tragedy on Sabado Tarde Road took his life. Mr. Bourdakis said Nick was excited about his new academic path.

“Nick was really turned on to geology and meteorology. The scholarship is something that will be remembered for years. It’s a wonderful way to do some good and to remember Nick,” he said.

Donations that the Bourdakis family has received in the past year from friends and sympathizers will finance the award.

“When all this happened, so many people wanted to make donations and send flowers. We said, instead of flowers … we should use that money for a donation to the Geography Dept.,” Mr. Bourdakis said.

At the time of the tragedy, Nick was in geography lecturer Pete Alagona’s Geography 5 class. Alagona said the scholarship is another way for family, friends and the university to continue the healing process.

“I guess all I can really say about the scholarship is that Nick never had the opportunity to pursue his interests and become a geographer. Perhaps this scholarship will open the door for someone else to get the chance Nick never had,” he said.

Chancellor Henry Yang said the campus community joins him in expressing gratitude to the Bourdakis family for its monetary gift.

“The family’s thoughtful contribution, in memory of Nicholas, will provide valuable support for deserving undergraduate students from the Department of Geography,” Yang said. “This memorial fund speaks eloquently of their love for Nick and their dedication to the goal of education he had for himself.”

“I think it’s one of the most wonderful ideas that I’ve heard of all year. It was such a horrible tragedy; the scholarship gives us a way to move forward in a positive direction,” Nick’s geography professor Carl Sundbeck said.