About 100 members of the community gathered in Ontario Tech University’s Polonsky Commons Thursday in a vigil for Dr. Razgar Rahimi and his family, who were killed during the Ukraine International Airlines’ plane crash in Iran Wednesday morning.
Rahimi was a graduate of the school and a sessional instructor in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
Students, faculty and university president Steven Murphy said a few words while audience members held candles in memory of the victims.
Rahimi’s wife, Farideh Gholami, and three-year-old son, Jiwan, were among the 57 Canadians who were killed in the crash. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, revealed Thursday it’s believed the plane was shot down, perhaps unintentionally, by an Iranian missile.
According to those at the vigil, Rahimi was held in high regard by students he taught.
One of the courses he taught to fourth-year electrical engineering students was digital signal processing. During their semester in that course, students say Rahimi was very helpful and willing to answer any of their questions.
“He used to always go that extra mile to help teach us,” says Rizwan Khan. “He would always make time in his schedule to make our learning experience the best it could be.”
The students add Rahimi was very accommodating.
“Even if it was, like, one of the stupidest questions, he wouldn’t mind answering them,” says Osman Yousaf. “At the end, it would be benefiting us and himself…he was always humble, for sure.”
Rahimi was also very prompt when responding to emails, according to his students.
“For example, he used to take time from his busy schedule to answer questions,” says Rasel Khan.
Along with answering questions, Rahimi gave them guidance about personal matters and other courses they were taking. He also talked to them about what they should do moving forward in their university careers.
“And I think the best thing about him was that he remembered everyone’s names,” says Hamsa Hassan. “So that shows a lot about him, and his character.”
Class sizes usually numbered about 80, according to the students.
“When you hear the name of the family, it hits you at home, cause, like I used to talk to this person,” says Rizwan Khan, speaking about how he felt when he heard the plane had crashed. “He was like a role model to you; he was like a figure in your life.”
School president Murphy had a different relationship with Rahimi.
The first time Murphy met Rahimi was on the day of his graduation from the electrical and engineering program at Ontario Tech in 2018.
“He was a student who was full of hope and energy,” says Murphy.
Like the students, Murphy also reiterated Rahimi was very devoted to his family and enjoyed being around his students.
“His life was in front of him, and, unfortunately, like so many people on that flight. They were bright brilliant people with families that loved them, and they were taken too early,” says Murphy.