In recent weeks, two people that I've done stories on were killed.
The first is Tam Tran, a 27-year-old graduate student at Brown University and an activist for undocumented students.
I was working on my Master's thesis about the undocumented when I met Tran, who had illegally entered the country as a small child with her parents. She told me the remarkable story of how she had no nationality.
Her parents were boat refugees that fled from Vietnam to Germany, where she was born. The family then immigrated to the United States. She had entered the United States illegally, so though she had been here for most of her life, she had been unsuccessful in all attempts to obtain citizenship.
But, she was also denied Vietnamese citizenship because she hadn't been born there, and she was not able to obtain German citizenship. Though she *was* born there, citizenship in Germany is generally based on ancestry.
When I met Tam, she had graduated from UCLA despite all odds and was working in California, making documentaries and fighting for the DREAM Act to be passed. It failed to pass in 2007, but the act would have offered young people in her situation a path to legal residency in the United States. She had bravely testified before Congress also, telling her story and urging politicians to consider the plight of young people in her situation.
She was smart and articulate, and I remember thinking that she was destined for greatness, despite her difficulties. I'm not surprised that she was getting her PhD at Brown.
Alas, her time came too soon. On May 15th, she and a friend were driving in Maine when an oncoming car crossed the center line and crashed into them. Tam was airlifted from the scene but died shortly later.
The other person I did a story on was Brian Betts, a very beloved principal in Washington D.C. who was killed in his own home. There's an ongoing investigation happening, as well as some controversy about how the story was covered.
I wrote about Brian and several other principals for a back-to-school issue for The Washington Post. I distinctly remember how friendly and frank he was, and how dedicated he seemed. Although he had been working at an affluent suburban school for a while, he told me he had joined the D.C. public school system because he wanted effect positive change.
Brian and Tam both died far too young - may they rest in peace.