Kelly Dalla Tezza, a Fulbright scholar who planned a career in the U.S. Foreign Service, died Friday in an automobile accident in Morocco. She was 22 and lived in Parkville.
Family members said she had a flat tire while driving on a road near Rabat and lost control of the vehicle.
"She was the most fearless person I have ever known," said a close friend, Ashleen Williams of Bahrain, who is also a Fulbright scholar. "She was willing to go anywhere and do pretty much anything. She spoke Arabic and between the two of us, on our travels together, we were quite effective."
Born in Baltimore and raised in Parkville, she attended Villa Cresta Elementary School and Loch Raven Academy Middle School. She was a 2007 graduate of Towson High School, where she participated in the school's Law and Public Policy Program. She was her class salutatorian.
Her mother said that throughout much of her childhood, she competed in Baltimore County gymnastics. From ages 3 to 10, she took dance lessons at Towson University. She was in Baltimore County soccer recreation leagues and played the flute.
"I was there to cheer her on," said her mother, Meg Doxzen Dalla Tezza of Parkville. "She never followed the crowd. She just followed her dreams. She worked very hard to achieve all her successes."
Ms. Dalla Tezza earned a bachelor's degree in Islamic civilization from Boston College in 2011. As a senior, she had an internship at the American Islamic Conference. Family members said that during her junior year in college, she studied in Cadiz, Spain, and later in Amman, Jordan. She stayed on in Jordan the following summer and worked at a publishing firm. She spoke Spanish and Arabic.
"She was the hardest-working person I have ever met," said her cousin, Baltimore attorney Joseph Tivvis, for whom she worked at times in the summers. "She always went above the call of her position. She learned fast and often looked for new assignments. She was quiet but not a pushover, and very serious about her job. When her day was done, she enjoyed a joke."
He said that while she was a summer worker, she made valuable suggestions to improve his law office downtown.
"If she needed to get something under my nose, she pushed ahead and did it," said Mr. Tivvis. "If someone else were not working hard, she had a way of giving them a certain look."
Ms. Dalla Tezza had recently passed the U.S. State Department's Foreign Service Officer Test. She had also been accepted into graduate programs at the Johns Hopkins, Harvard and George Washington universities.
At the time of her death, she was a graduate Fulbright researcher at the Institute for International Education in Bahrain. According to her resume, she was conducting research on "women's political influence in Bahrain" and had been interviewing women prominent in civil society. This month, she had spoken at a Fulbright-sponsored conference, held in Morocco, on women's political roles in Bahrain.
Ms. Dalla Tezza also kept a blog of her experiences in the Islamic world. She traveled widely throughout the Middle East and mixed easily with those she met.
In one post, she wrote, "Adopt a Kuwaiti grandpa." She said that after leaving the National Memorial Museum, she met a Kuwaiti "who hangs out for fun at the super depressing museum."
He offered to drive her and friends "around for the rest of the day," she wrote on the blog. "This included rocking out to Celine Dion in his enormous Ford on the way to the Martyr Museum, which by the way I recommend. Then, he drove us around to various tourist sites and paid for everything. He told us that Turkey is the best country in the world because it has bars and mosques."
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church, Harford Road and Gibbons Avenue. No date has been set.
In addition to her mother, survivors include her father, Chester Dalla Tezza of Parkville; a brother, Jeffrey Dalla Tezza, a Johns Hopkins University junior; her paternal grandmother, Rose Dalla Tezza of Baltimore; and maternal grandparents Michael and Marguerite Doxzen of Baltimore.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun