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From Whence Kendra Came

Written by her friends the night of her death

Kendra Chiota Payne sprang from the very heart of the earth, molten lava for blood, with all its heat and passion rising out of the depths. In her compact frame she held the power to move continents, to move people, to keep life moving. And move she did. She moved from the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro to the depths of the South Pacific Ocean living out her Truth. Steeped in the rich colors of Rajasthan was her soul – passionate yet peaceful, bold yet subtle, always balanced, always beautiful, always Kenny P. Always true to herself … when she was laughing she was laughing and when she was crying she was crying. Like the core, she was raw, no layers … Iron, like a lion, in Zion. But in her heart, there was always warm love. To say she was beautiful would be an understatement … she was stunning, electric, magnetic. She was able to grow up so tall because her roots were so deep. This treeʼs branches touched every corner of the earth, reached into all of us and planted a seed and because of that, her life goes on … so that we too can live on and live hard. Just like Kendra.

Kendra’s Favorite Quote

“Know from whence you came. If you know from whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”

-James Baldwin


Kendra Payne was a dedicated student, athlete, and world traveler. On January 11, 2006, while on a UCSB triathlon team training ride climbing up Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara, she was struck by an asphalt truck and killed.

Kendra had an amazing energy and zest for life. She was a global citizen who lived on three continents and visited over 30 countries during her 21-years of life. During high school, Kendra was captain of both her swimming and track & field teams at the Singapore American School (SAS). She was awarded medals in both sports and at SAS’s annual biathlon event. In 2006, SAS designated the biathlon as the Kendra Payne Memorial Biathlon. This Memorial Biathlon continues today in Singapore every December.

At UCSB Kendra became a triathlete and raced in numerous triathlons and marathon in both the US and Australia. Participating in sports was her passion and it was her way of life. It shaped her character and values and gave her self confidence. Even more important to her were the bonds she shared with her teammates.

Kendra was a colorful individual whose strong athletic abilities were matched by her humility. She encouraged others to believe in themselves and inspired them to go after their heartfelt dreams and goals. Her tenacity and generous spirit continue to live on in all those touched by her life. 

At the time of her death, Kendra was exploring opportunities to devote her life to fostering the economic and educational development of women and children in developing countries.  She intended to go into the Peace Corps in Africa after graduation. The memorial internships named in her honor give life to her dreams.  


January 2006


My Dearest Kendra,

Kendra, in Anglo-Saxon origin, you mean understanding, all knowing…

in Welsh, you mean greatest champion in my world…

in the simplest way put, you mean friend. 

Yet now, you also mean legacy,

a strong river of everlasting flow.


Sweet Kendra, life is so uncertain …

Did your parents know when they named you that you would grow to be a great champion? 

That by your side is where I often was, with guidance and solace?  I can see you squirming in your humble coat, well relax, let me help you take that off…because your parents got your name right.


Sweet Kendra, life is so uncertain …

One of the last times we were together, we were surrounded by books, papers, and tea.  I thought your tea was better, so I drank most of it.

I’ve been meaning to ask you what kind it was….

Time, we needed more time.


Sweet Kendra, life is so uncertain …

Time they say can soften the pain of every sort of wound, but I can’t believe that time shall have any power over my longing to see you again.  

Because for now, your absence has left me weary and I wish I could write about us in better days.

I admit I wanted to make a bargain with fate; I have screamed, and I have wept, 

I have laughed unexpectedly, and my heart has swelled.

Dear Kendra, sweet Kendra, life is so uncertain, but I am certain that you will always be with me.

Love you forever, 

Sarah Elder

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