Many paper cranes folded for Cranes for UNLV
Mar. 6, 2024
Through the delicate folds of origami paper, the UNLV community has woven a tapestry of remembrance, solidarity, and hope in honor of the victims of Dec. 6. 

In the aftermath of the tragic events of December 6, 2023, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) community united in a profound expression of grief, support, and unity. Amid this collective mourning, a poignant memorial initiative, known as the "Cranes for UNLV" project, took shape. Led by a committed group of students, including Kylee Brahma, a junior from the Honors College, this project emerged as a heartfelt tribute to the faculty members who fell victim to an act of senseless violence on the UNLV campus. 

The project honors Professors Patricia Navarro-Velez, Jerry Cha-Jan Chang, and Naoko Takemaru, UNLV faculty members remembered for their many contributions to student life and academia, and pays tribute to a fourth faculty member who was critically injured during the incident.

Drawing inspiration from the Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 origami cranes—a symbol of hope, healing, and peace—the initiative originally focused on Dr. Takemaru, affectionately known as Takemaru Sensei. With the overwhelming support from both the UNLV and Las Vegas communities, the project's scope rapidly expanded to honor all affected by the tragedy.

"The response was overwhelming," Brahma reflected, "prompting us to grow the project beyond our wildest expectations."

The ambitious goal to fold 4,000 cranes, representing each victim of the shooting, took shape after the initial gathering in the 201 Plaza in Chinatown, which drew over 50 participants. Successive meetings, including significant ones hosted by the Discovery Children's Museum and the UNLV Honors College, continued to unite students, faculty, alumni, and the broader Las Vegas community.

Those who could not attend the in-person folding sessions were invited to send in their cranes, with contributions coming from as far as Japan, including from former UNLV professors. 

Now, having achieved their goal with the help of more than 200 individuals, the project will culminate in a stunning visual memorial that will be displayed in a prominent location on campus. Four shadow boxes, each filled with 1,000 origami cranes and spelling out "UNLV" in vibrant red, will stand as a testament to the diverse spirit of UNLV. Surrounded by cranes in various colors and patterns, these letters reflect the diversity of the UNLV campus.

“Just like the unique mix of individuals at UNLV, we hope each crane reflects various textures and colors, emulating the diversity and beauty of UNLV's campus community,” Brahma said.

“We hope that this memorial will not only commemorate and honor the lives of our fallen Professors, but also serve as an embodiment of the unity and resilience of our #unlvstrong community.