The memories came pouring out.
Through a mixture of tears, smiles and laughter, friends of Annie Nguyen continued to remember the sparkling young woman they had come to know and love.
Having risen early one morning while on vacation this past summer in Cape Cod with her friends, Marissa Puchalski thought she was the first to wake. She walked into the kitchen only to find Nguyen hard at work.
“We all slept in but I got up earlier than Meg [Giec] and Annie was already in the kitchen cooking us all breakfast,” remembered Puchalski.
As infectious as her personality was, Nguyen’s smile made it that much easier to love her.
“One time she was appealing a ticket [on campus] and the [officer] said ‘oh don’t worry about it–you have the nicest smile’,” said Giec with a laugh. “Anyone who looked at [her smile] instantly fell in love with her.”
Annie Nguyen, 21, passed away unexpectedly this past Saturday, Dec. 5, after her fight with an unexplained neurological condition involving multiple seizures.
Born in Springfield, Nguyen graduated from Enfield High School in 2012 and was currently in the midst of her senior year as a member of the 2017 class of the Physician Assistant Masters Degree program.
Nguyen’s wake will be held tonight, Dec. 10 and tomorrow, Dec. 11 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Hafey Funeral Home in Springfield with the funeral taking place on Sat. Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. at the St. Lawrence O’Toole Church, in Hartford, Conn.
“It is a big loss to the community, the college and this PA class,” said Charles Milch, director of the Physician Assistant program. “For me she was this bright light that cared about everybody. She really cared about people.”
As they sat quietly on the main floor of Babson Library all Puchalski and Giec could do was smile and tear up as they reminisced about their close friend.
It was Nguyen’s love for people that really made the impact, however.
“She was one of those people that would drop anything for anyone,” said Puchalski, a senior English and secondary education dual major. “She was so selfless.”
“I truly believe that God’s plan for Annie was to make an impact upon other’s lives,” continued Giec, holding back tears. “I personally can say that she has impacted me in so many ways and she will continue to do so for the rest of my life. She was a genuine person with a heart of gold.”
That heart of gold helped to carry Nguyen through one of the toughest programs on campus.
“The program is pretty difficult but a very bonding program. These [students] spend eight hours a day with each other, studying together, sitting in class together. It can be very stressful and I think Annie’s impact on the class was phenomenal,” said Milch.
“Our class is made up of grad students and undergraduates and it is very difficult for the grad students to integrate because they are a smaller core coming in after the [undergrads] have been together for three and a half years. Annie really facilitated the melding of those two groups through social activities and interpersonal activities throughout the school year.”
“The first day of PA seminar freshman year I remember she looked flawless while all of us, our first time dressing professionally, had old black pants and grandma sweaters on,” said Giec.
“The first time I met Annie she was with Meg sitting in the Union and I came over and she was like ‘you have something in your teeth’,” said Puchalski as her love for her friend glistened in her eyes. “I loved that she told me right off the bat.”
As the 2015 fall semester comes to a close and Nguyen’s friends and family try to find ways to continue on without their loved one, it is Nguyen’s smile, personality and kind-hearted nature that will truly live on.
“No matter how stressed, busy or tired she was she never failed to be a good friend and would always help anyone that needed anything at all,” said Giec. “I truly believe that she was an angel this whole time.”