Memorial Service for Ying Wu and Ming Qu

Shrine Auditorium
April 18, 2012
By C. L. Max Nikias

We have gathered this evening to honor the lives and the memories of Ying Wu and Ming Qu.

And yet, how can we accord them the respect and reflection they deserve when we are beset with unresolved grief? When we are consumed by unresolved anger and unresolved questions?

How can we make sense of the senseless?

There are no simple answers to our questions. But the one thing that is clear is that we must come together. To share. To remember. And to heal.

There is no pain, no trial, no tragedy worse than to see a young member of one’s family taken away before his or her time. And recently, our USC Trojan Family has experienced such a loss.

Before the horrific event of last week, Ying Wu and Ming Qu were known as serious, committed and bright members of our family. They were second-year graduate students in electrical engineering, and they couldn’t wait to open the doors of opportunity that their education would offer them.

Ying was born to parents from China’s Hunan province. Ming was born to parents from China’s Jilin province. Both traveled thousands of miles to this country to further their education and follow their aspirations. They became inseparable friends.

And both came to USC, as thousands do every year from around the world, determined in their pursuits and undaunted by the challenges so many students face in a new land.

I know something of the life they lived, because my wife and I were once them. Niki and I came to America decades ago, as graduate students, for much the same reason as they did: because we dreamed of the better life through better education.

There is a loneliness of being a student in a land, away from the comfort and support of family, that many of you here know firsthand. But when you came to Los Angeles, you became more than a resident of a very large metropolis. You became more than a student of a major university.

You, like Ying and Ming, became a member of the sacred Trojan Family. This Trojan Family includes 3,000 outstanding students from China and Taiwan, and many thousands of distinguished Chinese alumni on both sides of the Pacific.

This global family stands together. This family perseveres together. And yes, this family sheds tears together. But it also comes together and consoles together.

Our worldwide Trojan Family grieves both here and in more than 100 other nations. Tragic events crystallize the true character of a community, and this ordeal has brought the Trojan Family closer together.

Ying and Ming, what can we say to you now?

The flower of your youth has been cruelly uprooted, torn away from you in the darkness of night. We wish that we could comfort you. We wish that we could restore you. But we can promise that we will always remember you.

Your heart-wrenching loss reminds us that while our lives may be fragile and fleeting, our bonds are eternal and enduring.

To honor your memory in perpetuity, the University of Southern California will establish the “Ming Qu and Ying Wu Memorial Scholarship Fund” that will award two scholarships every year in your names.

The holders of these scholarships will embody your qualities that were so revered and endeared by your family, friends, and fellow students: unrestrained intelligence, unbounded drive, unyielding ambition, unassailable accomplishment, and uncompromising kindness.

This scholarship fund will also ensure that your dreams live on forever, through opportunities that it opens up for other students.

We can further honor your memory by committing ourselves to building a better city and a better world, in which our children are safe to grow, to discover, to love, and to reach their fullest potential.

To Mr. Wu and Ms. Yin – Ying’s parents – and to Mr. Qu and Ms. Fei – Ming’s parents – you have our deepest sympathies. We share your grief, which weighs heavily on our hearts. We share your loss, which weighs heavily on our university and its hundreds of thousands of alumni and supporters around the world.

But we also share what your children gave us, which enriched our lives immeasurably and indelibly. May Ying and Ming rest in peace, now and forever.