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Cal Poly student remembered for positive attitude, passion for architecture

Posted at 9:23 PM, Apr 28, 2023

A remembrance ceremony was held on Friday evening for a Cal Poly student who died Monday after he was hit by a truck last week.

Sean Hillman was just 20 years old, but he left a lasting impression at Cal Poly as a first-year student who had already found his calling.

Fellow Cal Poly students say that Hillman was full of potential before his life was tragically cut short.

“He was brilliant and so smart. He seriously was gonna change the world one day. He was always gonna greet you with a positive attitude, a smile and a high-five,” said Max Dennison, who knew Sean.

Hillman’s family traveled from Seattle all the way to San Luis Obispo to be greeted with support from the Cal Poly community.


“There is no other word to describe him except incredible. I had so many instances this week where I got to know his family a little better. All the experiences that I shared with him came back through his family. He is exactly like that,” said Dennison.

As a freshman, Sean was already well-known at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

“I got to know Sean pretty well. He was always at the events,” said Sasha Padilla, with the Structural Engineers Association of California. “You can tell when a first year is very involved. You could see it on his face. He was always very passionate-- eager to learn, grateful to be here and this was definitely the place that he belonged.”

Sean was also looking forward to the start of Design Village, an event where students build a structure at the architecture graveyard and sleep in it overnight.

“I just remember being like ‘This is a design, I think it’s alright,’ and Sean’s like ‘Give me 2 days, I’m gonna make that into real life. I’m gonna make it so the structure holds,’” said Dennison.

And the project Max was involved in, was completed and set up by his team members on Friday.

“We came up with the idea for the roof to hold all of the pedals together,” explained Dennison. “We couldn’t have done it without him, he contributed immensely.”

Sean’s hammock was also turned into a memorial for the 20-year-old.

“We thought about him going up here, we thought about him this morning,” added Dennison.

Those who knew Sean say that now is the time to show support to the family as the long healing process begins.

“Design village—this event specifically-- he was very involved, always in the shop working on this project with his group,” said Padilla. “We’re here to honor him and celebrate what an amazing person he was and is so, we’re really happy to gather and come together in green today.”

Design Village continues on Saturday with a full day of events out at Poly Canyon.