“I called her Julia Goolia.”
Andrew Chen, Nan’s uncle, said outside of school, Nan liked playing the piano and drawing.
“She’s a very independent girl,” he said. “She always had her own idea to do what she thinks is right.”
Even in high school, Nan knew what she was doing and where she was headed in life, said Pam Savage, Nan’s guidance counselor for her senior year at Panther Creek.
“I can’t even tell you how impressive she was academically,” she said.
“And she was an even better kid.”
Savage said Nan was consistently at the top of her class — but her ranking wasn’t the most important thing to her.
“She was second in the class going into the spring semester, but she chose to let that go and to do an internship at Duke (University) instead,” she said.
“I just loved that at such a highly ranked school, she didn’t necessarily care about the numbers — and so often they do.”
Savage said Nan talked in high school about pursuing some sort of career in medicine because she wanted to help people.
And Tina Wang, a friend of Nan’s, said those aspirations continued into college.
“She always talked about how great (it would be) to be a doctor who can save people’s lives,” Wang wrote in a message.
“She wants to save as many people as possible in the future.”
Nan also volunteered at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she worked as an undergraduate lab assistant.
Though she was not enrolled in summer school classes, she was still on campus this summer because she was about to start a science project in the lab, which supervisors said she was very excited about.
“She had so much hopefulness and vitality that comes from being young and having so much promise,” said Alicia Koblansky, Nan’s supervisor for her summer project, in a statement.
“We will miss her presence very much, and her loss is heart-wrenching.”
City editor Cammie Bellamy contributed reporting.
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