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Phat Nguyen remembered at candlelight vigil outside Minskoff Pavilion

November 29, 2021

Dozens of students gathered outside Minskoff Pavilion on Monday night to perform a candlelight vigil for Phat Nguyen. 

Nguyen was found dead on Stoddard Avenue in the early hours of Nov. 20. His cause of death has not been confirmed by the Ingham County Medical Examiner.

The event brought in speakers from various student organizations, including the Vietnamese Student Association, Chinese-American Student Coalition and Asian Pacific American Student Organization.

Evan Chang, a member of the Chinese-American Student Coalition, or CSC, said that Nguyen’s kindness was the thing that always stuck out to him.

“Every time I talked to him, he would always just be the nicest guy ever,” Chang said. “He would always be complimenting me whenever I talked to him. He would be complimenting me on the things that I would never think of.”

Chang compared Nguyen’s effect on people to the candles many in the crowd were holding— demonstrating his ability to “light up the room.”

“And at the end of their time, they do burn out,” Chang said. “Phat’s candle burnt out too early, but his light will still shine forever.”

CSC President Henry Zhou backed up Chang’s impression of Nguyen, saying that he had only heard positive things from anyone who interacted with him.

“He’s left a very bright impression,” Zhou said. “The best way I think to describe him is that he is sunny and bright.”

According to Zhou, Nguyen’s charisma was his defining trait.

“He was always so eager,” Zhou said. “He had a certain charisma to him that I really admired.”

Zhou went on to emphasize the need to support each other in this time of mourning.

“I realize that there's a lot of mixed feelings around here in our community, and how we might appear to others,” Zhou said. “But I do believe that this is a time where we need to reach out to others who are hurt, and try and relieve that pain.”

Vietnamese Student Association, or VSA, president Alisha Phan recounted numerous stories to the crowd about Nguyen, highlighting his ability to make any situation enjoyable.

Nguyen’s performance of Fergie’s “Fergalicious” at a group karaoke event in particular showed Phan his willingness to put his all into anything. On another occasion, she recalled Nguyen raising members’ spirits whilst volunteering for MSU Parking Services.

“He put in 110% and possibly even more in everything that he did, and was never afraid to be himself,” Phan said. “His smile was infectious to everyone that would be in the same room as him. He had always looked out for others, and was the friend that everyone needed.”

Phan then quoted from an essay Nguyen wrote in the sixth grade.

“In a paper he wrote in sixth grade, he said this: ‘I hope that everyone is caring and kind.’,” Phan said. “I hope that as a community, we can take these words that Phat wrote, and be there for one another during this tough time of loss.”

Faculty Advisor for the Asian Pacific American Student Organization Anna Lin was the last to speak before a moment of silence in Nguyen’s memory. She reminded all students to reach out to MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services, or CAPS, if they were struggling with mental health in the wake of Nguyen’s death.

“One of the biggest resources that we can offer here at the university is utilizing CAPS as you all are students,” Lin said. “They are available to you, so please don't hesitate to reach out.”

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CAPS will be hosting a group session at 11 a.m. on Nov. 30 in the MSU Union for those who need support. Future sessions may be scheduled depending on Tuesday’s turnout.

CAPS’s crisis services can be reached at (517) 355-8270. For those wishing to schedule an individual counseling session, they can be scheduled online at


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