Tessa Horan


by Kristena Prater, Tessa’s mother

I still walk beside a life I lived with you
the curves of torment slipping by with continual forgiveness

Untouchable sentiments never to be forgotten
Your absence always did take up as much room as your presence
I will no longer follow rumored myths inside my head
Instead, I pour my heart into walks
Infused with sapphire colored skies

The light seeps inside me, like your unforgettable scent
The romanticism is shaped in a distant constellation falling
What if you really do come back to me in some form?
How will I know?

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams
You are a reflection, you will only die if I forget about you, and that will never happen

“Good timber doesn’t grow with ease;
the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”
I love you as ever.

Peace Corps Press Release:

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 1, 2006 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced today with deep sadness the death of Tessa Horan, a 24-year-old Peace Corps volunteer in Tonga. Tessa died as a result of injuries sustained in a shark attack in Vava’u.

A Santa Fe, N.M. resident, Tessa left for Tonga in November of 2005 and was sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer in January. She had been at her site for a little less than a month when the tragedy occurred. Tessa was assigned to Peace Corps/Tonga’s Community Education project, which focuses on the development of English usage, and computer, vocational, and life skills for Tongan students. The project also helps local teachers develop their skills through team teaching.

“It is clear that Tessa was fulfilling her dreams of serving others through her gift of teaching. Her dreams of strengthening her community in Tonga epitomize the heart and soul of the Peace Corps,” said Director Vasquez.

Tessa graduated from The College of Santa Fe in December of 2003. Before joining the Peace Corps, Tessa worked as a kayak instructor, landscape designer and substitute teacher. Most recently, she worked for the Santa Fe Ski Company on the ski patrol.

Peace Corps staff and fellow volunteers who remember Tessa say she was enthusiastic about the opportunity to share her teaching skills with Tongan educators and learn from them in return. In her aspiration statement, Tessa stated, “I am seeking to fall into communities and share the human quest for togetherness and simplicity.” Tessa also mentioned one of her favorite quotes from Gandhi, “I want to be the change I wish to see in the world.”

Tessa is survived by her mother Kristena Prater, father Kevin Horan, and three siblings Xavier Horan, 23, Devin Burke, 19, and Jasmine Burke, 17.

Daily prayer vigils have been held in the morning and the evening since Tessa’s tragic death. A memorial to honor Tessa will be held Monday evening (local time) in Tonga. Arrangements for a service in the United States are in progress.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Horan family at this very difficult time,” said Director Vasquez.

Tessa Horan Foundation

The Tessa Horan Foundation was created in 2006 to honor the life and commitments of Tessa Marie Horan. Tessa was dedicated to improving the lives and conditions of people who are under served. Her diligence inspired the creation of The Tessa Foundation.The Tessa Foundation is devoted to furthering human rights for people challenged by oppression, disability, hunger and abuse. We continue Tessa’s work in the places that mattered most to her, serving in New Mexico, the Kingdom of Tonga, Nepal and India.


Tessa Horan Foundation
P.O. Box 8751
Santa Fe, NM 87504

phone: (970) 379-1508

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2 Responses to Tessa Horan

  1. Blair Cowan October 20, 2023 at 8:48 pm #

    I worked my first NOLS course as an instructor with Tessa in Desolation canyon. I heard about her tragic death later in the summer after she left to join the Peace Corps. She was an amazing, competent and friendly person. Im not sure why ive searched her name today, but I was thinking about her.

  2. Peter Redmond May 4, 2017 at 11:46 am #

    I said a special prayer this past weekend for Tessa and her family at the Fallen Peace Corps Volunteer Memorial Service in Washington, DC this past weekend. Love to Kristena and Xavier as they keep the memory and spirit of Tessa alive.

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