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Slain Ambassador Went to School in East Bay

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."

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.

Voter with an ID September 12, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Very sad and unwarranted. His family must be heartbroken, especially given the circumstances in which he was murdered. When will our 'leader' acknowledge that we are (and probably always will be) at war with militant islam? They won't stop uuntil all infidels are killed or converted by force. The religion of peace my ass...............

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