As a student at Highland Hall, Terry developed a profound love for the earth and its inhabitants. After graduating from John Brousseau’s eighth grade class in 1988, Terry attended a local high school where he could engage in his passion for football. He attended UC Santa Cruz and majored in biology and environmental studies. Terry’s concern for the welfare of others led him to work on campus developing a rape-prevention program. He also taught women’s self-defense classes.
After graduation, Terry traveled to Columbia where he became an activist working for the rights of the native Columbian U’wa people. In the early ‘90’s oil companies were seeking to extract minerals from land belonging to the native peoples, thereby threatening the human and environmental balance of the region. For centuries the U’wa lived in harmony with their land, maintaining a cultural, spiritual and educational system that made community life sustainable across generations.
In February 1999, while working with the U’wa to establish a culturally appropriate school, Terry was killed by a rebel group in Colombia. He was 24 years old. Terry was honored posthumously with the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Achievement Award that recognized his selfless devotion and service to others. In 2001, UC Santa Cruz established the Terence Freitas Award in Environmental Studies.
Terry’s former class teacher, John Brousseau, spoke eloquently to the high school students about Terry’s short, but remarkable life. Terry’s mother, Julie Freitas, also spoke with pride about what Waldorf education meant to her family, and encouraged the students to go into the world and make a difference. “You could hear a pin drop…the students were so moved by his story,” said Bari Borsky, Highland Hall’s Community Development Director.
At the end of this tribute the school renamed the WISC room the “Terence Unity Freitas Global Citizen Room,” or “Unity Room” for short. This room honors the inspirational young alumnus who died while helping an indigenous people retain its ancestral homeland and ancient culture.