In Vietnamese, the word “diu” is directly translated as “tender.” But for Diana Vu, ’18, it has a deeper meaning.
“It is often used to describe someone whose physical beauty radiates from their personality,” she says. “I mention this word because that’s how I would describe Vivian’s presence with people. Her personality captivated the people around her.”
Vivian, her younger sister, was a sophomore at Missouri Southern when she died Nov. 23, 2017, in an eight-vehicle crash near Hamel, Ill., while returning from a Model United Nations Conference in Chicago. Five other students and their faculty sponsor were injured in the crash.
An international studies major, she was also a member of the university’s Honors Program.
In the aftermath of her death, the Vivian Vu Heart for Humanity Scholarship was created in her memory. Earlier this fall, a new endowed scholarship was announced – the Vivian Vu World Community Scholarship.
“I was surprised to learn that a second scholarship was made in honor of Vivian,” says Diana. “It meant a great deal to my family that the person responsible for creating the scholarship took the time to reflect on who Vivian was as a person … the requirements and purpose for it are exactly what Vivian would have wanted.”
The new scholarship is intended to honor Vivian’s commitment to global education and awareness, as well as her exceptional capacity for building and sustaining friendships. To be eligible, students must: be a sophomore or junior; have studied or made plans to study abroad; have taken a range of courses that show an interest in international issues and global cultures; have participated in Model UN, Model European Union, Arab League or other comparable international simulation; and show a strong commitment to community building efforts. Diana is currently living in Mongolia as a volunteer with the Peace Corps – an idea first suggested by her sister.
“Vivian was actually the first person to suggest I look into the Peace Corps,” says Diana. “I don’t think anyone understood me like she did … she knew it was the perfect fit for me and pushed me toward that direction.”
Health education was recently implemented as part of the country’s school curriculum. Working with her counterparts at the school and from other non-governmental organizations, she helps to plan and facilitate health lessons for children in grades six through 12.
“The end goal is to promote and extend a sustainable health education program at my permanent site,” she says. “Aside from gaining field experience in public health and satisfying my wanderlust, I wanted to fulfill Vivian’s last advice to me.
“I don’t think I will ever have a connection with anyone like I did with Vivian, but it’s reassuring knowing I was fortunate to have 20 years of it with her. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”