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In Loving Memory

Gotta make this quick so I can get to bed and get up for my 6:30 a.m. flight out of Tallahassee tomorrow.

No new food to report, but I wanted to tell you about a very special project I’m involved with my friends from graduate school.

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In August 2007, 18 students started the MA program in public affairs reporting at University of Illinois at Springfield. We spent a year together, in class and interning as capitol reporters for various news outlets in Illinois.We spent hours upon hours in each others’ company — laughing, drinking, eating, crying.

At the center of our class was a man named Vu Nguyen, who had grown up in Little Saigon in Orange County, California. Unlike most of us who were fresh out of school, Vu had already worked at major newspapers — the Seattle Times and the Orange County Register. But he had never finished his education. So, he left his job at the Register to get his college degree and he then moved on to get his master’s at Illinois.

Vu was one of my best friends in Illinois. We had either lunch or dinner together almost every day. He would fill me in on his wedding plans (he proposed to his long time girlfriend while we were in school) and our respective job searches, the uncertainty of the journalism industry, hopes and goals, etc.

In the spring, we graduated and the class scattered across the country. Vu moved back to California for a job at a paper out there, and I moved to Florida to work for an online start-up.

On May 10, 2009,  Vu  collapsed on a Santa Monica soccer field and died less than a week later, leaving behind his wife of six months.

The entire class was shattered beyond words, devastated that he could be taken from us so soon. We had all gathered in Springfield in March to celebrate another friend’s entry into the Peace Corps. Vu had flown in from California to be there for the party.

My class promptly set up a scholarship fund in Vu’s name. We’re already at $10,000 and we need to reach $25,000 for it to become endowed.

This weekend, several friends who have remained in Illinois have organized a trivia night to raise money for the scholarship. I unfortunately had already commited to the conference in D.C. and won’t be attending, but my heart is always with my fellow classmates.

To learn more about my remarkable friend or to donate to the scholarship, please visit  http://remembervu.webs.com/

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From Left: Me, Patrick (also a classmate) and Vu at a bar in Springfield.

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2 thoughts on “In Loving Memory

  1. Somewhere, dear Vu is laughing at us for being so sentimental–and knowing he’s the coolest kid in all the schools because we miss him so much.

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