The Yale University community has been hit by tragedy after three of its students passed away this month.
Undergrads Rae Na Lee and Hale Ross, both attendees of close-knit Calhoun College, died suddenly and unexpectedly.
Joshua Chang died in a car accident on Saturday.
Ross, 20, was an economics major at Calhoun College, a student fellow of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program and part of Yale’s men’s cross country and track and field team.
Students remember Ross as “a dedicated, caring student-athlete and a friend with a sharp sense of humor.” The track and field team said that “Hale epitomized everything that we aspire to be as a team,” adding “he was relentless in his training, a fierce competitor and a stalwart teammate. His warm smile, wit and friendship are irreplaceable; he was truly the best that Yale had to offer.”
Rae Na Lee, 21, a South Korean student at Calhoun College and member of the Yale women’s fencing team, also died unexpectedly this month. She was remembered by those who knew her as being “like the sun.”
In a statement, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said Lee died at her home in New Haven. Her husband and parents were with her. Lee was born into a wealthy South Korean family. Her father Yong Kyu (Jerry) was a member of Koreana, a band best known for their hit “Hand in Hand”, which became the official song of the 1988 Summer Olympics. She was also the cousin of Clara Lee, a popular South Korean actress and entertainer.
Last March, Lee announced her upcoming marriage to Sun Ho Lee, the son of the powerful South Korean conglomerate’s – CJ Corporation – President Jae Hyun Lee. They wed in April.
While the exact causes of Lee’s and Ross’ death are not known officially, the university has in the past come under fire for providing inadequate mental health support. Currently, students at Yale diagnosed with mental health problems are encouraged to take leave from the institution.
However, this is perceived by some as being counter-productive as taking leave on medical grounds can jeopardize the readmission chances of students.
The third death this month was that of Joshua Chang, 21, a senior in Saybrook College and a popular member of Yale’s cycling team. He has been described by his teammates as a “helpful, enthusiastic friend and dedicated equipment manager who once constructed his own bike out of bamboo.” He died in a car accident last Saturday. He planned to double major in mechanical engineering and economics.
Joseph Zinter – an associate research scientist at Yale who worked with Chang – said his “enthusiasm was contagious and his smile lit up the room.” He added: “He was the spark that moved things along when the team was stuck, and the type of person that was always there to help others.”