The exchange student killed in the Santa Fe shooting had no family in the U.S., so the community banded together for her funeral
On May 18th, the town of Santa Fe, Texas was devastated by a school shooting that left 10 dead and 13 injured. Now, in the aftermath of the tragedy, the Texas town has begun to commemorate the shooting’s victims. On May 20th, the Santa Fe community came together for Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh, honoring her with a funeral while her family is still an ocean away.
The Islamic Society for Greater Houston put together the service for 17-year-old Sheikh, who had been studying at Santa Fe High School since August 2017. Her funeral was held at a mosque in the suburbs of Houston and was open to the public.
“She doesn’t have any family here, but she has all of us and this whole community that is mourning,” MJ Khan, president of the Islamic Society told USA Today. “We are all there to be her family.”
According to ABC, Sheikh’s host parents, Joleen and Jason Cogburn, spoke at her funeral, saying the teen wanted to be a businesswoman and that the family had been fasting with her during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The Houston Chronicle reported that one of the Cogburns’ daughters, Jaelyn, also spoke at Sheikh’s funeral, saying Sheikh was her best friend.
"She was so loyal to her faith and her country, Jaelyn said during the service. “She loved her family and she couldn’t wait to see them. And she loved us. She was the most amazing person I’ve ever met, and I will always miss her."
According to CBS, the teen’s time at Santa Fe High School was funded by the U.S. State Department via the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, which provides study abroad scholarships to students from Muslim-majority countries. She was reportedly planning to return home in three weeks to celebrate the end of Ramadan with her family.
Sheikh’s father, Aziz Sheikh, told Reuters that “Sabika’s case should be an example to change the gun laws.”
Our hearts break for Sheikh’s loved ones and all those who were affected by the Santa Fe High shooting.