By Josee Smith
On June 15 this year, Xavier Leyva-Quintana ’14 passed away in his room in Xanadu. A senior at the time, Leyva-Quintana was known for his “goofy” smile, love of football (and futbol) and passion for bringing people together.
“He always tried to get people together and he was never too busy to hang out,” said Nick Breitweiser ’14, a friend of Leyva-Quintana. “He helped me to connect with other people and be more social.”
Other friends of Leyva-Quintana echo his desire to help people connect, including those who might not ordinarily meet.
“He had all these disparate groups of friends but he was able to bring us all together,” added Alex Alifimoff ’15, who met Leyva-Quintana last year but immediately felt comfortable within his close friend group, which included Breitweiser and a couple other friends. “He was so inclusive of his friends…people felt really comfortable and got to know each other when they were around him.”
Originally from Winter Haven, Florida, Leyva-Quintana came to Stanford to study economics. He joined Los Hermanos de Stanford as a freshman and stayed involved with the cultural group up through his senior year. According to his friends, his Catholic faith was very important to him and he tried to live compassionately, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.
“If he didn’t like something you did, he could attribute it to the fact that he didn’t know you that well,” Alifimoff said. “He always felt that there might be something going on that you don’t know about [that would explain someone’s behavior].”
Breitweiser’s best memories of Leyva-Quintana come from their senior year, living together in Xanadu and reminiscing on their time at Stanford, as the two met during their freshman year in Trancos.
“We would just always hang out back behind the basketball court [of Xanadu],” Breitweiser said. “It was everything you’d want to do senior year: just chilling with your close friends.”
Others remember the more outgoing aspects of Leyva-Quintana’s personality.
“He always described himself as ‘awesome,’” said Brenda Acevedo ’14, his former girlfriend. “He was very expressive…sometimes I see his expressions in things that other people do…and he was always dancing.”
Leyva-Quintana’s strong faith was sometimes in tension with his friends’ beliefs but few people saw it as a hindrance to their friendship.
“He grew up Catholic and I’ve always been agnostic, so sometimes we’d get into ‘heated’ arguments,” Breitweister added. “But I tried to be understanding and I started to see that it was reasonable for him to believe in his faith.”
Breitweister added that, since Leyva-Quintana’s death, he has tried to be more compassionate and outgoing when dealing with other people.
“I think a lot about what he would say,” he said. “I think people in general should talk to people more, really talk to them about life.”
“He helped foster a sense of community with all of his friend groups,” Alifimoff added. “He always felt that you should be kind to others because everyone is fighting a hard battle. That drastically changed my life view.”
Contact Josee Smith at jsmith11 ‘at’ stanford.edu.