Friends of Annie Lynn Wang, a second-year UC Santa Barbara student who passed away in May 2018, gathered under Storke Plaza on May 18 to hold a memorial in her honor.
The one-year memorial of Wang’s death was organized by her friends, UCSB students Bryant Pahl and Jo Zhou. Pahl, a fourth-year environmental studies major, said they arranged the event at the request of Wang’s mother.
More than 40 people gathered on Saturday to memorialize Wang. Much of the night, however, was filled with silence as they mourned their friend.
Students wrote on a large sheet of paper placed on a table next to a picture of Wang, sharing their favorite memories and expressing how much they missed her.
On the other side of the table were flowers and cookies. Wang’s mother wanted cookies there to symbolize how much her daughter loved to bake, Pahl said.
He added that Wang was so good at baking that her mother eventually stopped ordering from caterers and just let her daughter bake for her events.
The students who did speak about Wang shared what a positive person she was. For one student, Wang’s enthusiasm was the most contagious thing he said he had ever experienced.
Another of Wang’s friends, who is a photographer, remembered that she used to ask why he always wanted to take pictures of her when they were at an event.
Wherever she was, “she made it that much more fun,” he said.
Pahl said it was hard to talk about Wang but said she was a “great person who I made a lot of memories with.”
The two would spend countless hours talking about anything and everything after general meetings at the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, Pahl said.
“The most amazing thing about Annie is that she was very well spoken and very articulate about what she said,” Pahl said.
Pahl said one night he went to drop off Wang, but the two found themselves talking through the night instead. While the two were chatting, Pahl accidentally left the emergency lights on his car on. By the time he went to his car, the battery was dead. While he waited for help, Wang was there to keep him company, talking with him for nearly another hour.
Other friends shared stories of Wang always putting others before herself and being there for everyone.
Ashley Roy, a fourth-year student at UCSB, also recalled one of her favorite memories of Wang. The two met because Wang would study at San Rafael Residence Hall, where Roy lived, even though Wang was a resident of Manzanita Village. Because of this, Wang would routinely lock herself out late at night.
Roy said she would usually be up late as well and would always let Wang back in the hall. Roy once asked Wang why she would always go out late at night, despite knowing she had no way back in the dorm.
“The best time to see a shooting star is to go outside at midnight and look straight up at the sky,” Wang responded.
One night, Roy took Wang’s advice. Though it took a few days, she finally saw her first shooting star.
“To me, Annie was a light,” Roy said.