Santa Clara University

80_santa_clara_magazine_1

In Memoriam

Ericka Chambers Norman J.D. ’97

United Nations worker died in Haitian earthquake.

Ericka2ed_118Ericka Norman was always quick with a word of encouragement, her older sister Feliscia Schott says. “She tried to help people,” Schott says. “But she didn’t have a lot of tolerance or compassion for those who said ‘I can’t.’”

Certainly Norman, a United Nations worker who died in January in the Haiti earthquake, knew what it was to triumph over obstacles. She grew up in a family troubled by substance-abuse and mental-health problems. They moved constantly. Bills went unpaid. Often there was little food, or even furniture. As a teenager, Norman moved in with her best friend and then a teacher’s family. But through it all, Norman shined. She won a full ride to Smith College in Massachusetts. She studied in Japan, taught in New York, and came to Santa Clara, attracted in part by the law school’s diversity. While a student, she spent long hours working at the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County.

It was Norman’s desire to give back that ultimately led her to work for the United Nations—first in Kosovo, where she met her husband, Alvin, a U.N. engineer, then in Haiti. She had been based in the island country for the past five years as part of the U.N. Stabilization Mission, working as a liaison with community members. She was in the U.N. offices in Port-Au-Prince when the earthquake struck on Jan. 12, collapsing the building.

Though she loved helping people, her greatest joy was her family: her husband, his two children, and their two-and-half year- old daughter, Denise, Schott says. All were unharmed in the quake.

SS