Jenny Stories & Remembrances

If there is any comfort at all for us in this moment of grief it is the knowledge that Jenny's final years on this earth were spent with Dom. Theirs was a true love story.

Life is short and so unfair.

– Adedayo Banwo

Jenny interviewed me for my Park Scholarship back in 2000 and the fire alarm kept going off in the building during the interview. We all laughed quite a bit about it. I'll never forget it. She was one of the first people I met at NCSU. I was very lucky and honored to have known her.

Jenny was such a fighter and still is. Her legacy will continue to live on through her work with raising money for breast cancer research but mostly through her wonderful personality. She will be missed but not forgotten.

We all have to remember that Jenny is no longer suffering as hard as it is to not have her here. I know that gives me some peace and I hope it does all of you.

Dom, you are certainly in our thoughts and prayers!

– Stephanie Alm

As a Park a few years behind Jenny, I never got to know her well. I do remember that when she was student body president, my older brother, who did not know her personally, had the utmost respect and admiration for her. I saw this feeling towards Jenny repeated time and time again in those that I met who knew her or who had only heard of her. Sadly I came to know her more throughout her illness, and was so impressed by her honesty and courage I can only hope to emulate her in my life. I am very sorry I cannot be there for the memorial service.

– Deb Kull

I first met Jenny during finalist weekend in 2000. We had lunch together at the Atrium, and I remember very well how impressed I was with her at that time. Over the years, however, we got to know one another a lot better because of our similar interest in politics. Jenny was doing what I wanted to be doing, and I nearly had a chance to work with her in David Price's office on the Hill, but turned down the internship in favor of something else. I've always regretted that decision a little bit, and now I fear that I will even more. Jenny was an amazing human being, always dedicated to the causes she believed in, and never afraid to say exactly what was on her mind.

Jenny was a friend and a mentor to me. I visited her in her DC office several times when I was in town, and she always had time to sit and chat, no matter how high the paper was piled on her desk. It was always time I valued highly, and her advice was always something I took very seriously. All of us who knew her well will miss the chats and her ever-present smile, but I take comfort in knowing that, while she didn't get to accomplish everything she wanted to, she was proud of what she did. I know I'll think of Jenny whenever I'm lucky enough to bring about real change through government and politics, and I look forward to knowing that she'll be looking down and smiling.

– Matt Spence

Jenny went to the same high school as I did, and although we never quite overlapped there or at NC State she started a legacy and set a standard for anyone at our school(s) who wanted to better themselves and make a difference. Jenny Chang was set as the example that we were all to strive for.

I knew her brother better than I knew her. I'm sure today is a very difficult day for him, for Jenny's mom, and escpecially for Dom, but there must also be a feeling of peace — at least I hope there will be soon enough.

– Ryan O'Quinn

Jenny and I met at the first finalist weekend, back when we didn't even know what a Park Scholarship was. We got to know each other as members of the first class of Parkies, and I was always at ease with her. We both possessed the gift of biting sarcasm, and we really enjoyed exchanging pointed remarks. I always knew that i couldn't offend her and it was refreshing to be around someone with that kind of confidence. Even when we famously overslept during our class trip to Wilmington, Jenny blew me off when i suggested she leave without brushing her hair!

Now that I'm a wife and new mother I find it hard to think about Jenny without crying. It is hard to be joyous, and to celebrate her life. I wish she could have experienced motherhood. I wish i could have seen her more.

I am grateful to have been at her wedding with all of you and to celebrate her marriage. My last memories of Jenny are of her standing in the brilliantly decorated ballroom of the museum, receiving the longest line of well-wishers i have ever seen at a wedding, taking the time to hug all of us.

– Melanie Conklin

Jenny is one of the most extraordinary people who ever lived. My memories of her go back to the very first Park Retreat, in 1996, when 25 strangers got to know each other at Camp Seagull. We were, and in some ways still are, such a close group, and Jenny is such an important part of that group.

I had the honor of being her secretary in 1999 when she took over as the first Asian female Student Body President at NC State. Her motto for her entire term was "Take Your Passion, and Make it Happen". I will never forget that, and I will never stop trying to live up to that statement in honor of her.

I am forever grateful to have had her as part of my life, but do not understand why she will not be around to become the first female president of the United States. She would have won in a landslide.

We can all honor her by taking our passions and making them happen, and being grateful for the chance to know her. I will always love her very much and the 24 other members of the Park Class of 2000.

– Amy Stallings

Coming along in the class two years afterward, I never got to know Jenny very well, and I regret that. But I do know, from hearing the news of her fight with this terrible disease, that she was a woman of extraordinary courage, along with the intelligence and passion for life that were evident in our few brief encounters. My heart goes out to Dom, and all of her family, and those who were close to her, and my prayers are with all of you.

– Chris Muller

I first met Jenny when she was one of my interviewers on finalist weekend. My older sister was already at State, so I knew that Jenny was the student body president, which was a pretty big deal. I was very impressed with how kind she was, putting me at ease despite the stressful situation.

Four years later, we were lucky enough to have Jenny along on our senior retreat at Yellowstone. We were talking, and she happened to mention my finalist interview. I was completely amazed that she even remembered me, much less some of the things I said (none of which were particularly earth-shattering). I have always had the greatest admiration and respect for Jenny, and my heart goes out to her family.

– Tristan Berry

Our paths never really crossed in high school or at NC State because she had always graduated by the time I entered as a freshman. But every where she went, she left behind a legacy and a string of impressive accomplishments so I had heard of Jenny Chang long before I had even met her.

I finally did get to know Jenny better after bumping into her at dinner while I was working in DC one summer. I was so happy to see a familiar face, and she immediately extended invitations to have lunch together and a brunch at her new apartment. Honestly, I was surprised. She was a legend in my mind, and in some ways, I had always assumed talking to someone you admired so much would most likely be a bit intidimidating. Jenny's exceptional friendliness dispelled that notion, and that is the lasting impression I have of her. For me, Jenny will always be a role model as someone who embodied intelligence, warmth, and courage.

– Melanie Chin

I have a LOT of Jenny stories. I first met Jenny at the leadership seminar with her classmates. She ran up to hug me and said, "finally, we have a woman working with us and not all these men!" I told her once she got to know me she might not be so happy to have me as I wasn't like other girls. She just laughed. My second memory of Jenny is when Austin asked me, on Learning Lab I when she CERTAINLY overslept and tried to blame it on Melanie's deaf ear, for a Kleenex. Jenny asked him if he thought I was his mother or something. I loved how she protected me from female stereotypes and yet was mortified by my green jacket, which was leather not pleather as she asserted. I did get to go shopping with Jenny in DC at the market and I loved how she was a bargain shopper! I also love how Dom, squished in the middle, sat in the back of Art's Acura while Art was getting lost in Baltimore and he didn't complain not even ONCE. We knew then that Dom was perfect for Jenny. She was always worried about finding a guy because she was so assertive. I told her she just hadn't found the right one yet. She and I later agreed that Dom had been worth waiting for...

– Laura Lunsford

I have lots of fun memories of Jenny. One of my favorites was when she took me shopping for 'back to graduate school' clothes. She wanted to give me a make over because she was convinced IŐd move to Atlanta and meet the love of my life, just the way she moved to DC and met Dom. I'll never forget it. We were in the dressing room at the Banana Republic, (outlet of course), and she was trying to convince me to buy the skirt that I had tried on. I wasn't sure I could pull it off, and the next thing I knew she had pulled a young man about my age over to my stall. She pointed at me and told him, 'Tell her to buy that!' I'll always remember that about her — how she took charge at every opportunity.

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to know Jenny and call her a friend. She was beautiful and I will cherish my memories of her. She truly lived life, and every day I will think of her and try to do the same.

– Jennifer Shafer

I didn't know Jenny very well — we only occassionally ran into each other during our small overlapping time at NCSU. However, we shared a room during our (2003) Learning Lab to DC and I remember how she was so strong, confident and passionate — something that I envied as a bumbling freshman. Even in the little time I shared with her, she inspired me and I know that her memory will continue to inspire myself and others. She was a very unqiue and beautiful woman, and she will be missed.

– Melissa Thompson

Jenny was one of the most remarkable, loving, strong, courageous, intelligent, and honest people I've ever known. I miss her very much.

– Jason D

***This one goes out to all of the ladies who ever occupied 24 Bagwell Avenue. GOOD TIMES! Holla!***

I had the pleasure of sharing Jenny's Mother's house on Bagwell Avenue with Jenny, Amy P., Corrie C., and Michele T. during my Junior and Senior years at State. It goes without saying that, for this reason, I have a lot of Jenny stories!

Those of you who I have since met through Jenny may not believe this, but while living together, Jenny and I actually were not very good friends. Our personalities clashed and I often found myself in the middle of a heated argument about the BellSouth bill or moldy rice in the steamer with Jenny spitting fire in my face! We pretty much agreed to disagree and call the other a "bitch" before heading to our rooms, but we did love like sisters and have shared more "GOOD TIMES" than bad.

The day Jenny won the Truman Scholarship; the lights in the Bell Tower were changed from white to red in her honor. I remember walking down Hillsborough Street for the Bell Tower with Amy and Jenny. We took a whole slue of photographs. The three of us danced around the tower, acting goofy, snapping shots, and burning smiles into memories that would last longer than any picture our cameras captured that day. I was so proud.

Amy and I were the thorns in Jenny's side when it came to cutting loose in college. One day, while significantly underage, Amy and I attended a cookout off campus and ended up getting pretty sloppy. Jenny, who had stayed home to study, agreed to pick us up from the party. Amy and her boyfriend piled in the back with a cooler full of left over food, unopened beer, and one bottle of freshly tapped liquor. I was in the passenger seat with a pot of baked beans in one hand and a mixed drink in the other.

Not five minutes into the trip, we rolled up on a DUI checkpoint. We were crazy, but we weren't stupid, so having Jenny as our designated driver should have been a "get-out-of-jail-free"card.

Before Jenny's car came to a complete stop, I managed to mix the remainder of my drink into the pot of baked beans (I was never one for chugging) and stuff the Solo cup under the seat. The cops must have smelled the liquor Amy and I were metabolizing because we were all immediately escorted out of the car, and were separated to tell the cops our individual stories.

As it turns out, Jenny blew 0.0, so we were allowed to go. But as we drove off, the cop looked into Amy's window with a flashlight and asked, "What's in the cooler?" Amy, deciding honesty is the best policy, listed the contents, and Jenny ended up with a ticket for the open container!!!

Now, of course, the three of us who were actually breaking the law split the cost of the ticket, but I can still feel the tension that accumulated during the trip back to Bagwell Avenue. Jenny never let us forget that one!

About a year ago, Jenny came to my GE plant to give a talk about Breast Cancer Awareness. She introduced herself by telling all of my employees that she felt sorry for them because they had to work for such a bitch and then proceeded to share the same story I just told. She added the following to the end of her version, "Beth and I did not get along in college, but she is one of the few people I know who will look me in the eye and tell me the honest truth about what she is thinking. I am dying. Beth was never the person to deny this fact or say silly things like, 'things will get better.' Instead she looked right back at me and said, 'I know you are dying, and there is not much I can do for you, but if you think of something, let me know.' When someone you love is dying, the best thing you can do is be realistic about it, and don't waste a moment letting them know how much you care. I know Beth loves me, and she knows, even though she is the biggest bitch I know, I will always love her back!"

When I think of Jenny, I remember the red lights on the Bell Tower and the pride I felt just because I knew her.

– Beth Truscello

Dearest Bonnie, William & Dom,

I am writing to let you know that my thoughts have been with you since I first learned about Jenny's courageous battle.

Jenny and I lost touch with each other since we went our separate ways to colleges. However, I always remember that Jenny was one of my very first friends in this new country. I moved to the U.S. in high school. Most teenagers were not comfortable to make a connection with me because I was a stranger with a foreign accent. Jenny took the initiative to be my friend. She asked questions patiently until we really got to know each other. She had a compassion for people who needed friends and comforts. She was always a friend of wisdom and loyalty.

I would like to thank Dom for sharing Jenny's love letter. For the most part of my life, I have grown up without the presence of a father even though my father is alive. There is a vulnerability shared by women who grow up without this element. Your relationship with Jenny is a story of deep healing and inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing this special love. The essence of us is the spirit of love. I know that Jenny's love will always live.

– Tanya Tai

It is hard to know what to say... Jenny was confident and had seemingly endless courage and strength. It is so very sad that her life was so short, but it is incredible how many people's lives she touched in that time. Jenny, thank you for the beauty that you added to this world. You will be missed.

– Amanda Parodi

Hanging out at Jenny's house my Freshman year was always exciting. It was great having my big sis Amy around, as I transitioned into my college life. I had a cute little crush on their roommate Beth and I loved cutting up with Jenny on a day-to-day basis. I remember one time we were drinking a glass of wine in the kitchen and Jenny started to get really red and goofy. She then went on to explain alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes and how she could not facilitate the conversion and breakdown of the alcohols as fast as I could, due to her Asian heritage. It was awesome.

Indeed, I miss her. My last memory of Jenny is her in red, dancing with me at my sister's wedding. She had a "perma-grin" and you would never have known she was dying. I am blessed to have known her and spent the hours I did with her. Life is indeed unfair, but faith in the things to come puts a smile back on my face.

"God does not give us an overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength." – O. Chambers

– Tripp Polen

I have a lot of great Jenny stories, but I think my favorites have to do with me driving her somewhere.

During her Bachelorette road trip, I was one of the drivers, and Jenny often ended up in my car. Getting in to Orlando was easy, but finding the house we were supposed to be staying at was not. We must have driven up and down the same streets three or four times, and every time we'd try a new direction, we'd end up in Celebration, Florida. It became a running joke, as we ran later and later, and Michele kept calling us wondering where we were. That trip will always be connected to driving Jenny (I took a few solitary trips with her to pick up things that were left behind) and the giant stores that looked like a Wizard (who knew there were two Wizard stores?!) Jenny begrudgingly let me photograph her in front of one of them, when we stopped to buy her some socks.

A more infamous incident was when she and Terrell and I took a roadtrip to visit Michele in Ohio and see State play. As we got into West Virginia, there was construction near the Capitol, and I was telling Jenny why I never ever speed in work zones. It's a good thing, too, because about that moment, a construction crew knocked an orange barrel into the road. The car in front of us ran over it and stopped. While we stopped in time, the car behind us did not. So, there we were in the middle of a five car pile up in the middle of West Virginia. It took forever for cops to get there and sort everything out, and we all stood on the side of the road waiting. I'll never forget Jenny — "They're all looking at me," she said, motioning at the drivers slowly plodding by. "Well, we are a pretty noticeable traffic block, Jenny...." "No," she insisted, "it's because they've never seen an Asian person before." This still makes me smile, mostly because she was so insistent and I know she'd still fiercely defend her stance that's why people were looking.

I think my favorite driving Jenny story, however, was one random night, back when we all still lived in Sullivan. Jenny and Michele and really, more girls than should have tried to fit in my convertible, all piled in. We didn't have much of a plan or destination, we just drove in circles around Raleigh, enjoying the night and the Greatest Disco Classics, Part I. The air was almost warm, and the sun was setting. We sang "It's Raining Men..." at the top of our lungs and everything was smiling and wind blown hair and silliness. Jenny had a great laugh — head thrown back, mouth open wide — and she shared it often.

– Kelly Marks

I first met Jenny through the Caldwell Fellows, of which I am an alum (Class of 1894). I always remember her energy and spirit, and I was constantly amazed that she could maintain that level even though she was carrying an incredible academic and extra-curricular load.

My story is a funny one...I had pleaded with Jenny to come down and visit my contemporary art gallery, Lump, which is located in downtown Raleigh. Somehow, in her crazy schedule, she found time to come out one fine First Friday night, for the monthly opening of a new show. Now, Lump is not located in a bad part of town, but at that time there were certain places where it was not advisable to park, such as right in front of the convenience mart — two doors down — that specialized in "fortified beverages." Sure enough, and unknown to me, Jenny sailed in on her little car (of which she was very proud) and parked....well, you guessed it....right in front of the convenience mart. I was delighted to see her, and I spent some time explaining the conceptual art we were showing that month. Sometime during our conversation, she casually mentioned where she had parked. I blanched....she saw my face and asked what was wrong. I said, "There's a good chance that your car will be broken into...you need to move it right now." She laughed and told me not to be silly. I escorted her to her car — and we both stopped to find her driver-side window smashed out.We called the police, Jenny looking a bit sullen and me horrified that this had occurred to an invited guest and a fellow Fellow. I can't remember what was taken, but I can remember this — when the police car pulled away, she turned around, and the sullen look was gone, replaced with that typical grin and a wee bit of friendly sarcasm. "Thanks for a special evening — I'll come back next month!"

And that's how I'll always remember her. Those petty thieves did not dampen her spirit when they broke into her car — and cancer can never, NEVER take away our memory of Jenny as a woman full of life, energy, hope, and positivity.

– Med Byrd

I feel fortunate to have met Jenny shortly after we both moved to DC. I have so many good memories of crab-eating, bargain-shopping, and Capitol-Amber drinking beside Jenny that I always cherish. She will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.

– Cynthia Cook

I meant to ask Jenny if she remembered exactly how we became friends. I knew of Jenny from NC State — we both lived in Sullivan Hall freshman year — and had mutual friends from college. But it took my moving to Washington, DC, in 2002 for us to become close. Shortly after settling into my Eastern Market apartment, said mutual friend visited DC and invited me to join her in having brunch with Jenny, Dom (who was in town!), and a half dozen of Jenny's friends.

Jenny and I later devised a running joke — one that we certainly thought of as comical — poking fun of how we hadn't been friends in college.

But there's still that gap in my memory. How did we get from that brunch to our joke?

A memory from the early days of our friendship comes to mind. We spent one day at a large shopping mall on a targeted mission: finding pants for me. Jenny couldn't believe it when I said that have the worst luck finding pants that fit. She offered to go shopping with me, swearing that she could find anything for anyone. She made me try on easily a hundred pair of pants that day and waited by the changing room for me to model each pair.

Six hours later, we left the mall without a single pair of pants. Jenny said, "You are the first person, Anne, that I've not been able to shop for. I thought you were just exaggerating when you said you couldn't find pants. But you were right. I think you should wear more skirts. Next time, we're going shopping to find you skirts."

She wanted to go shopping with me again!!! In my mind the disastrous pant-shopping day will always be the cement in our friendship. It's a snapshot of what I admired in Jenny: her helpfulness, tenacity, patience, loyalty, love, laughter, positive outlook, and sense of adventure. I miss her greatly. And if the day should come when I try on a pair of pants that fit, I'll wish she could be waiting outside the changing room.

– Anne Williamson

I met Jenny in 1999 through the Truman Scholarship and then lived in the same floor of an apartment building in DC the summer of 2000, but it wasn't until December 2003 that I really got to know Jenny. That December, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As anyone who has had cancer can relate, the first few weeks in particular were rough. The news of my cancer reached Jenny quickly, and Jenny called me immediately. Even though we hadn't been in touch for years, we quickly rekindled our friendship and discovered a new bond through the very disease that was trying to overwhelm us. Throughout the next two and a half years, I enjoyed a special friendship with Jenny as we encouraged each other and shared stories as some of the only young people we knew going through cancer.

Jenny never ceased to amaze me through her illness. One thing that always amazed me was her lack of vanity. For someone who loved clothes and shopping as much as this woman, she wore her bald head proudly. As a cancer survivor, I also had a visible mark of my battle, although not hair loss, as I went through radiation rather than chemotherapy. I did, however, have a massive scar across my neck that made me look like a victim of some sort of back alley robbery. (Or maybe I just thought so!) I hated the scar and felt very self-conscious about it. I remember telling a friend that I wasn't sure that I would ever in my life be able to show my neck in public. I always wore turtlenecks and scarves to cover up the scar. The next time I visited Jenny after my surgeries, I showed her my scar, and then she showed me her large scar below her belly button that put my thin scar to shame. We laughed about the comparison. Still, Jenny listened to my concerns about my scar and even bought me a few fashionable scarves to cover it up, even as she wore her bald head boldly (which was admittedly much more conspicuous than my scar!) She respected my insecurities about my visible part of being a cancer patient, but she also helped me realize that my vanity was silly. Today I expose my neck without a second thought... and find that most people don't even notice my scar at all.

Jenny's life was full of spirit and love — love for her family, for Dom, for her friends, and love for the world and helping it in whatever way possible. I remember at Summer Institute, the summer we were in DC together, Jenny taught us all the art of backrubs, and told us that this was one thing that brought she and her mother closer together. I remember later hearing Jenny talk about Dom and how in love she was with him, and I remember thinking how lucky she was to have found someone as wonderful as Dom, but even more so, how lucky Dom was to have been able to be with someone as incredible as Jenny.

The loss of Jenny to this world is heartbreaking. Even through my tears, describing Jenny to my friends who didn't know her makes me break out into a huge grin. Her quick and wide smile, her stubborn resolve, her magnetic presence, her dedication to social justice, her vivacity even in the face of a powerful illness — these things made me smile and will always make me smile when I think of Jenny. I know that her memory will live on in all those that love her, and the lessons that Jenny taught us just by being the wonderful and beautiful person that she was, will continue to make us stronger, better, and more beautiful people ourselves.

– Dawn Hewett

I first befriended Jenny while I was preparing for a series of scholarship competitions. Though we didn't attend the same school, I approached her as a mentor and the feedback from her was immediate and tremendous. She gladly volunteered to share her knowledge, insight, and suggestions with a level of generosity I have seldom encountered since. I remember being inspired by her authority, intelligence, and matter of factness served with a dose of humor.

After the scholarship process ended, I lost touch with her, but I carried with me her generosity, easy spirit, and the belief that no one is a stranger. In the summer of 2002, while interning in DC, I came across Jenny again at the Golds Gym on Capitol Hill. Her hair was closely cropped — a departure from the long, black locks she once had — but her smile was knowing, warm, and unmistakably Jenny's. We visited for a short while, and she informed me that she was battling breast cancer and in the same breath, invited me to have brunch with her and her friends the following weekend. I neglected to follow up with Jenny under the belief that our brunch-date could be postponed — until a more convenient time.

Time has passed, a "more convenient time" cannot exist now, and my regret, though urgent, is useless. If leadership is defined as means to inspire and instruct through example, then Jenny clearly was and is leader in every way. Both her presence, and absence in my life has fortified my character, instilled in me a stronger sense of duty to the public, and more importantly taught me to cherish every minute of life. Thanks cannot be enough.

– Jonathan Yi