BOTHELL — Anna Bui spent much of her time smiling and singing.
Friends say she was the kind of person who brought joy into every room she entered. She studied hard, loved music and recently returned from traveling abroad. She’d talked about pursuing a degree in medicine and dreamed of a life spent healing others.
Bui was one of three young people killed Saturday at a house party in Mukilteo. The 19-year-0ld graduated last year from Kamiak High School and was studying at UW Bothell.
More than 70 UW Bothell students and employees gathered on campus Monday afternoon to share memories and support each other. Bui had just finished her first year there.
The man accused of killing her, ex-boyfriend Allen Chrisopher Ivanov, 19, also attended UW Bothell.
University administrators planned Monday’s event to give people a safe place to go during their shock and grief.
A slideshow of photographs played on a screen at the front of the room. They showed Bui holding a bouquet of fresh flowers, posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, accepting a kiss from a big brown puppy and standing on a bridge with a cheerful pink and white dress and a radiant smile.
Kathy Mitchell was Bui’s academic adviser. They met frequently over the last year to talk about her goals. When Mitchell learned Bui had been shot and killed, all she could do was stare at the news on her computer screen and cry, she said.
“She was an extremely positive, optimistic person and just made me smile every time I met with her,” Mitchell said.
Bui was an excellent student and made the dean’s list every quarter. She always seemed to be smiling and people around campus knew and liked her.
“I know numerous students are deeply mourning her loss and are just in shock,” Mitchell said. “I don’t understand why she isn’t here today.”
Students and employees passed around boxes of tissues and blinked back tears. The informal ceremony began and ended with soft words and hugs.
UW Bothell got state permission to lower flags on campus in honor of Bui and the others killed, Chancellor Bjong Wolf Yeigh said.
“I can’t even begin to imagine losing your own child, especially to a senseless act of violence,” he said.
He read a letter from a professor who taught Bui in two classes. The professor called her a “bright light.”
“This is a time for us to unite and support each other through compassion, through kindness, and to be a part of that light,” Yeigh said.
Tanya Kumar, president of the student government at UW Bothell, urged her peers to honor Bui’s life by living theirs to the fullest and taking care of themselves. She reminded them that they don’t need to go through their shock, anger or grief alone.
Everyone grieves differently, said Rosemary Simmons, director of the counseling center on campus. Some may need quiet while others need to talk. Some will cry while others will feel angry or confused. Many may choose to find healing by “celebrating the light and that smiling face,” she said.
Leah Shin had two classes with Bui their freshman year. The young women commiserated over homework and laughed at each other’s silly antics. One of their classes was focused on music, which is how Shin learned Bui was a talented singer and guitar player. They had an assignment to form a band, so Bui, Shin and several others became Beardslee Boulevard, a reference to the road leading to campus. They made a lot of happy memories.
“I will never forget Anna,” Shin said. “I will only remember her most funny and joyful moments on campus … I just want to thank Anna for what she showed me my first year here.”
Counselors cautioned that grief may come in waves over time. People should be aware of their emotions and ask for help or take a break if needed. Losing someone to violence often makes the loss even harder to comprehend, Simmons said. The UW Bothell community is a close one and the grief is sharp.
“Don’t forget to check in with each other,” she said. “A hug and a smile can go a long ways.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org
Counseling and support
UW Bothell offers counseling and other support to students and employees affected by Saturday’s shootings. More information is online at uwb.edu/studentaffairs/counseling for students and at hr.uw.edu/worklife/uw-carelink for employees.