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Slain Ambassador Went to Piedmont High and Cal

J. Christopher Stevens was born and raised in Northern California.

The United States ambassador killed in Libya Tuesday night was born and raised in Northern California, according to his official biography on the State Department’s website. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens went to and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1982 and Hastings College of Law in 1989. He joined the foreign service in 1991.

Stevens spent much of his diplomatic career in North Africa and the Middle East, according to KTVU. Between graduating from Cal and getting his law degree, Stevens taught English in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Stevens was a 1978 graduate of Piedmont High, according to a statement from PHS Principal Richard Kitchens.

"He is remembered at Piedmont High as a former editor of the award-winning Piedmont High School newspaper, The Highlander," Kitchens said.

"He was an outstanding student, active in the PHS Model U.N. club, as well as active in the A.F.S. club. He was also active in all the musical productions at PHS and was featured in the quartet in 1978's The Music Man.

A quote from Stevens that accompanies his 1978 yearbook photo reads, "What a bore it is, waking up in the morning always the same person. I wish I were unflinching and emphatic and had big eyebrows and a Message for the Age."

Before moving to Piedmont, Stevens lived in Davis during the late 1960s and '70s, and attended Pioneer Elementary School and Emerson Junior High School there, according to Fox40.

For more about Stevens' early years in the East Bay and his continued ties to the area, see "Ambassador Chris Stevens 'A Very Smart, Very Funny Guy,' Says Cal Roommate."

Stevens was killed along with three other Americans in an attack by militants at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday night. The ambassador was fatally wounded while American and Libyan security personnel fought the attackers together, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said in a briefing in Washington, D.C., this morning.

"Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings," Clinton said.

Clinton said a "small and savage group" committed the attack, but the motive is still unclear.

Stevens, 52, had been serving as the U.S. ambassador to Libya since May, according to the State Department. Stevens had served twice previously in Libya, including as a special representative to the Libyan Transitional National Council from March to November 2011, during the country's revolution.

Stevens spent most of his career serving in the Middle East and northern Africa, including stints in Jerusalem, Israel, Damascus, Syria, Cairo, Egypt, and Morocco.

President Barack Obama praised Stevens this morning. "Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States," Obama said in a statement. "His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice."

After graduating from Piedmont High in 1978, Stevens obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of California at Berkeley in 1982. He then went on to receive his doctorate from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law in 1989. In 2010, Stevens received a master's degree from the National War College.

David Levine, a professor of law at Hastings who taught Stevens, remembered him from his civil procedure class.

"He was sure of himself, but not cocky," Levine said. "He was diplomatic, if you will."

Levine, who has taught at Hastings since 1982, said Stevens had been interested in foreign service since he was beginning at law school.

"He was doing what he loved, and he stayed in it," Levine said. "He could have easily made more money elsewhere, but everything he did was for the United States."

Levine said Stevens' actions on Tuesday night were extremely heroic.

"He was devoted to the work he did, and always went above and beyond," Levine said. "He took risks; when he had a choice between something more dangerous or less dangerous, look what he did."

A U.S. Foreign Service information management officer, Sean Smith, and two other Americans whose names were not released were also killed in the attack.

Despite Tuesday's attack, Clinton today insisted the relationship between Libya and the United States is still strong.

The attack occurred the same day as a protest at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Clinton said. In light of the two events, Obama has directed his administration to increase security at all United States diplomatic posts throughout the world.

Bay City News Service contributed to this article.

CJ September 14, 2012 at 11:57 PM
More strawman arguments. I would hope you can do better.
Jason September 15, 2012 at 05:12 AM
"How do you practice international diplomacy in a host country with a gun turret on every point of embassy grounds?" It is not possible to practice diplomacy to any positive extent with Middle-Eastern savages. Their culture is not capable of reason and does not desire progress. The Western world wants to advance the species, the Middle East wants to live in the 7th century forever. As far as pinning this on Obama, he has spent the past year boasting about killing that culture's greatest hero and arming Islamic coups to overthrow long term, stable, and comparatively moderate governments in the region, then leaves US embassies there defenseless while he is out golfing and giving interviews to seditionist Mexican TV stations. How is this not his fault?
Dept. of Misinformation September 15, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I hope things cool off a bit, in the east and in this thread--so that we can work together, appreciate and love each other, and celebrate our differences. Peace Mr. Stevens and the others who died Tuesday, I hope you were doing good work for the people of Libya. I believe in the end your deaths will not be in vain. Protestors: part of creating a free society is developing an evolving emotional and intellectual capacity for openness, humility, respect for all humanity, even a sense of humor helps. I hope the middle eastern growing pains will continue and not be derailed by extremism and dictatorship.
David Holden September 15, 2012 at 08:27 PM
CJ. Rockin' and trollin' as always. Thanks for the laughs.
Jose September 16, 2012 at 12:37 AM
What a senseless tragedy! Consumed and blinded by vengeance, these bad guys destroy everything around them as they try to strike at their enemy. It puts me in mind of Wrath of Khan. Khan just keeps missing his target and destroying everything and everyone around him, and every ideal he ever believed in. His every miss makes him more dedicated to his mad cause, and more alone. This fine American man, Mr. Stevens, along with all of the innocent Libyans, and Egyptians, and all the others caught up in this violence just happened to be in the way. The bad guys may have wanted him dead, but he was not their enemy, and he was not their target. A lot more people will die, but in the end, vengeance and hatred are not a cause to rally the masses. Ask the Oklahoma City bomber, ask the anti-abortion terrorists, ask the white supremacists how well their acts of violence inspired the masses to rise up in support of their revolutions. And, for all of this country's faults, the bad guys don't seem to be making much of an impact on the core values and the belief in tolerance that set this country apart. They are using the wrong ammunition, and they...just...keep...MISSING...their mark.

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