My Brother’s Classmate Was One of The Boston Marathon Bombers

“I smoked weed with a terrorist.”

Nicole Kenney


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As the tenth anniversary rolled around of the Boston Marathon Bombings, I can’t help but think back on that day, that week.

I was in seventh grade, only 45 minutes south of Boston. I was packing to leave for a school trip to Washington D.C. that night for five days. I vividly remember scrolling through social media, and suddenly seeing a stream of posts of people sending their prayers to Boston.

Confusion filled my mind until I turned on the TV. Instantly, recaps of buildings blowing up and marathon runners falling to the ground at the finish line are on every news station.

It was shocking, yet confusing. No terrorist attack has happened like this in years. Why now? Why the Boston Marathon?

Less than a day later, my brother (a 20-year-old college student at the time) walked through the door with nothing but his wallet and car keys. My mom asked what he was doing at home all of a sudden. All he said was he had to evacuate his campus. Security wouldn’t even let him pack a bag.

My brother was a current student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, in the same year as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Who Is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

Born in 1993, Tsarnaev was an immigrant who traveled to the United States with his family from Kyrgyzstan to start a new life.

At the time of the bombings, Tsarnaev was a sophomore at UMASS Dartmouth studying mechanical engineering (the same year and program as my brother).

Tsarnaev came to the United States with his parents and older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The family consistently lived in a world of transition between locations and visas until the family acquired permanent residence in March 2007.

Eventually, the family finally settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in September 2012.

While I was away on my school trip (which left my mom petrified) my brother was home for days, waiting to get a phone call or email that it was safe to return to campus.



Nicole Kenney

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