LINDEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A Rutgers University student was killed in a hit and run crash early Friday morning, just days before he was set to graduate.

Eduardo Perez, 33, of Elizabeth, has been charged in his death.

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Police said Perez was driving a 2007 Ford Escape east on East Linden Avenue in Linden, New Jersey when he struck 23-year-old Mujahid Henry, of Newark, around 12:30 a.m. Friday. Henry was thrown into a nearby parked vehicle and killed.

Perez then drove to Elizabeth, where he crashed into several parked vehicles before ditching the SUV on Liderwood Avenue, police said. Moments later, he was taken into custody and charged with death by auto and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

In an exclusive interview with CBS2’s Jessica Borg, Henry’s mother, Sonya Linsay, said her broken heart makes it hard to talk about losing her son, who was the fifth of eight children.

“Him being killed, you know, it wasn’t a good thing,” she said. “He was a loved child by everybody — the Muslim community, the non-Muslim community. He helped everybody.”

Henry was set to graduate from Rutgers University’s School of Public Affairs and Administration next week.

“Undoubtedly a star on the rise, he was characteristically hard-working, aspiring to earn a graduate degree and go into politics, amazing all around him with the energy that enabled him to be such a success in college while holding down two jobs and volunteering in support of local public officials,” Chancellor Nancy Cantor said in a statement Saturday.

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Henry was active in local politics and volunteered with Phil Murphy‘s gubernatorial campaign. Murphy posted a statement on his Facebook page, mourning the loss of “a friend and team member.”

“Mujahid, or “Mu” as he was known to friends, was a bright, outstanding worker who was looking forward to utilizing his college degree to make a difference in his community,” the post read in part.

Henry also posted photos of himself with U.S. Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) on his Twitter account.

Relatives told Borg that Henry was devoted to making a difference. He recently tweeted, “Spread kindness in whatever possible. Remember, it’s a form of charity.”

“They called him the next Mayor of Newark, perhaps, one day,” Henry’s father, Darryl, said.

He said the family is relying on their faith to handle the loss.

“They’re mourning. They’re taking it hard,” he said. “That’s what happens when death occurs. It can be agony, painful.”

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The family plans to pick up Henry’s diploma at next week’s commencement ceremony. His funeral will be held Monday in Newark.