Bennetta Betbadal (‘03, biotechnology) never lost her connection to Cal Poly Pomona.
It was on the keychain she carried, the university gear she wore and the relationships she nurtured by coming back to campus often to work with her former professor, Jill Adler-Moore, in the science lab.
“It was everything to her,” said her husband, Arlen Vedehyou. “She loved the atmosphere at the university, the professionalism of staff and faculty, and the education she received.”
Now, the memory of Betbadal, who was one of 14 killed in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino in 2015, will have a permanent marker on campus. The university has dedicated a brick in her honor, placing it on the alumni walk near the W.K. Kellogg Rose Garden.
Betbadal, a member of the Assyrian Christian ethnic minority group, fled to America from her native Iran with her family when she was 18 to escape the persecution of Christians in the wake of the Iranian Revolution.
She later met Vedehyou, a police officer, at a cultural convention for Southern California’s Assyrian community. They became best friends.
“Then one day I told her it’s time for the next step,” he said. “We were married for more than 18 years.”
The couple had a daughter and two sons.
“She was the full package,” Vedehyou said. “She was good at whatever she did. She was smart. She was a good wife, a good mother and she had a good family background. She and her mom and dad were very close. She was an only child.”
The couple loved to travel with their children. They often stayed at their second home in the San Bernardino Mountains community of Crestline. They took trips to Florida, Canada, Europe and Mexico.
Betbadal also loved her job. She worked as a San Bernardino County health inspector and led a team of restaurant inspectors. On the day of the shooting, she was to give a presentation to her colleagues at the Inland Regional Center gathering.
For Vedehyou, the brick dedication and other efforts to honor the 14 victims, such as the planting of a heart-shaped garden at Pikes Peak Park in Norco for Betbadal, are about not letting their lives be lost in vain.
“It’s not about the 14,” he said. “It’s about not letting the candle die, so no one else will get hurt.”