Notre Dame Community Remembers Lisa Yang
Margaret Hynds | Friday, March 20, 2015
“Lisa is one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. She always cared about other people’s feelings and never wanted to burden anyone. She was always willing to listen and offer consolation to those going through a tough time.
“Lisa loved to laugh and make jokes with people and was all around a good person to be around.”
Senior Joseph Celeste chose those words to describe his girlfriend of two years, Lisa Yang, who died March 3.
Others who knew her described her as a girl with a nearly ever-present smile and as “a friend to all.”
When the University announced her death late in the evening of March 3, dozens of those friends flocked to the Grotto to remember her and to illuminate the space, spelling out her name in candles.
‘A hardworking individual’
All those who knew her said Yang was an accomplished student. A finance major in the Mendoza College of Business with a job lined up after graduation, she was “naturally very good at many of the things she did,” senior Amanda Kotey said.
Kotey remembered spending time with Yang studying late into the night.
“I would say that Lisa was such a genuine and hardworking individual,” Kotey said in an email. “Often times when I had to pull all-nighters in our section lounge of McGlinn, I would almost always see Lisa there, too.”
Yang loved her studies and her extracurricular activities — numerous business-related clubs and the Debate Team — loved to cook and travel and dreamed of moving to New York, Celeste and senior Nikki Reyes said.
McGlinn Hall senior Boyoung Yoo said she met Yang walking to Domerfest during freshman orientation, and the two remained friends throughout their time at Notre Dame. She said she viewed Yang as one of the smartest people she had met at the school.
“I remember when she got her first internship; it was in sophomore year,” Yoo said. “It’s kind of hard as a sophomore to land an internship, and she had such a good one … she was getting paid really well, and as a fellow sophomore looking at someone this successful I just thought, ‘Well, you’re going places.’ … She had so much going for her.”
Several of Yang’s friends recalled her memorable smile and laugh that accompanied her cheerful disposition.
“She was always smiling. I’m sure you saw pictures of her smile, it was super bright, and it just lights up the entire room,” Yoo said.
Reyes, who lived in McGlinn and studied finance with Yang, described Yang as a young woman dedicated to her schoolwork who was generally very happy and playful.
“The way I describe Lisa is that she was always such a happy person,” Reyes said. “She was always very light.
“Even when she was stressed, she would laugh about things. She had a very distinctive laugh, when she felt awkward or something was funny.”
“She was very light-hearted and almost like a free spirit,” Reyes said. “During the Asian American retreat she stayed up all night to pull this elaborate prank on some of the guys … something with a vacuum and the boys sleeping and duct tape on the door. She was just fun.”
Reyes said Yang offered friendship to all those who knew her, but Reyes personally appreciated her optimism and support.
“I remember during interviews the fall of our junior year, Lisa and I both wanted to do banking, and we didn’t get anything we wanted in the fall,” Reyes said. “We were freaking out because we thought we were out of luck. But Lisa was always very positive. I was abroad, and she would text me when I had interviews to encourage me and say ‘You can do this.’”
But Yang’s kindness and friendship extended beyond the classroom and professional sphere, senior Margarita Arcenas said. Arcenas said she specifically recalls a night out with Yang and other girls from McGlinn.
“The last event I remember going to with her was a concert in Legends at the end of our sophomore year,” Arcenas said in an email. “It was pretty empty and the McGlinn girls from 2A, including Lisa, took over the entire dance floor. I wish she could have found the same happiness she had that night.”
‘An opportunity for others to understand … ’
The St. Joseph County Coroner’s Office ruled Yang’s death a suicide, after what Celeste and Lisa’s father Gary Yang described as a lengthy battle with clinical depression.
“Lisa suffered from depression for a number of years, starting in high school,” Celeste said. “Her depression was a self-enforcing cycle; she couldn’t see that she was smart, talented, beautiful and very successful.”
Gary Yang said although his daughter struggled with depression, she often hid her suffering.
“She cared about her parents and sister very much; she didn’t want them to be worried about her depression,” he said in an email.
“The extent of her struggle was not something she was comfortable sharing with those she loved. As a result, her family’s deepest regret is that Lisa didn’t receive the essential help and support that she deserved.”
Gary Yang said he hoped Lisa’s death would allow the community to move forward a better understanding of the disease and how to get support.
“The greatest sorrow and sadness of her family is that they came to know her struggling and suffering alone only after her death,” he said.
“We hope that her death might be an opportunity for others to understand that students suffering from depression should not suffer alone, but instead reach out to others for support and help.”
The University Counseling Office is offering special walk-in hours for students affected by Yang’s death today from noon to 1 p.m. and next Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., in addition to its additional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekday hours.