Xinhai Huang, a junior majoring in electrical engineering, was remembered for his intelligence and optimism Tuesday at a memorial in his honor. Huang died March 18 in a car accident about five miles southwest of the University Park Campus. He was 22 years old.
In addition to being an honors student on the Dean’s List, Huang was an avid rock climber, a son and a friend to many.
Justin Wayne Rawls, Huang’s best friend and rock-climbing partner, said his contagious smile always spread to everyone who encountered him.
“He was always so positive and always had the biggest smile on his face,” Rawls said. “He made sure that I knew how to love life.”
Huang’s sense of humor was just as contagious. Ethan Chan, a junior majoring in electrical engineering, recalled the many times when Huang made him laugh.
“I met him freshman year and got to know him more sophomore year,” Chan said. “He loved to joke around with everyone. He was a great person to be around.”
Mary M. Eshaghian-Wilner, one of Huang’s electrical engineering professors, said Huang’s death was a huge loss to everyone.
“He was a brilliant, great student,” Eshaghian-Wilner said. “I’ve been trying to deal with it with my students. It’s a very difficult loss.”
Rami Mazid, a junior majoring in electrical engineering and a classmate of Huang, said his absence will be felt by all who knew him both in and out of the classroom.
“We did a lot of work together, and we always helped each other out,” Mazid said. “He was [one of] the smartest people I knew by far. His passing was a loss for all of us.”
Those who knew Huang remember him most for his optimism, even in the face of challenges.
“I’ve never seen him down,” Chan said. “Though school may get hard and busy, he always worked through it.”
Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis Yortsos comforted students by comparing life to Huang’s passion for rock climbing in his speech at the memorial.
“Your world is literally upside down, and you are tightening your arms and fingertips the entire time as you climb. The only way to move forward is to blindly leap with faith through the air,” Yortsos said.
Vice President of Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson said Huang’s time at USC was one filled with true friendships.
“He wanted to build lifetime friendships with the people he met at USC and around the world,” Jackson said. “I know that he cherished his memories with all of you more than you can possibly imagine.”
In addition to being a beloved member of the Trojan Family, Huang was also a beloved son. Huang’s father, Yuejiang Huang, praised his son for his dedication, diligence and warm spirit.
In a speech in Mandarin addressed to his son, Huang’s father reminisced about his son’s positive nature throughout his short life.
“You were such a good boy,” Huang’s father said according to a printed translation. “Your family and friends all loved you when you were with us. I am grateful that you were beloved by so many people throughout your short-lived life.”
Huang’s father concluded his statement by thanking those within the Trojan community who supported the family following Huang’s death.
“I would like to express my appreciation toward everyone who had helped and taken care of Xinhai,” Huang’s father said. “I hope all of Xinhai’s friends will continue to live their lives with health and happiness.”
Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni urged those in attendance to remember Huang’s legacy.
“Let us be inspired by his life, and let us recognize that we are all deeply connected in miracle and in mystery to this university, to this community and to each other,” Soni said.
Isabella Sayyah contributed to the report.