By Rocío Hernández
Samantha “Sam” Jade Wang, a 22-year-old University of Nevada, Reno senior, passed away on Dec. 16 due to a heart infection that spread throughout her body and ultimately caused organ failure. Wang spent her last moments surrounded by her family and close friends.
She is survived by her parents Jack and Elaine Wang, siblings Alexander and Kyla Wang, aunts Shelia Westover and Tiffany Wang, and grandmother Teri Hwang.
While at UNR, Wang studied journalism and minored in photography. When Wang was younger, her childhood dream was to become an actress. As she got older, Wang’s interests shifted. Wang played basketball throughout high school. According to her father, Wang wanted to go on and continue to play basketball after high school, but as her graduation neared, Wang decided to pursue a more secure career path in writing.
Jack Wang noticed his daughter’s passion for writing when she was in middle school. In May 2014, Wang was able gain real-world experience as a journalist through her internship at This Is Reno, a local online news organization.
As she progressed at the university, Jack Wang said that his daughter also began to combine her writing with her love for fashion. Wang began her own fashion blog, Swang Fashion Dreamin’, where she would post fashion tips and columns along with health and beauty advice. In her blog, Wang said that when she was middle school, magazines would take up most of her room. After flipping through the pages, Wang said that she tried her best to imitate some of the clothing styles featured in the magazines.
“She was such a creative and artistic individual,” Westover said. “It was no surprise that she aspired to be in the fashion industry.”
Despite her new career choice, Wang continued to play sports in college. During her sophomore year, Wang played for Canada Hall’s indoor soccer intramural, where she first met Ryley Hill, who became her boyfriend for two years. She was also a part of UNR’s women’s Ultimate Frisbee team during her junior year.
In her spare time, Wang loved to work out at the gym and enjoyed watching cooking videos for healthful recipes.
Wang was known for being a selfless person. UNLV junior Stephanie Woodland, who lived in the same hall as Wang inside of Juniper Hall during their freshman year, said that Wang had a habit for having dinner with people she barely knew so they wouldn’t have to sit alone. According to Woodland, it was in Wang’s nature to be caring.
“She had like a sixth sense,” Woodland said. “I would be locked up in my room and upset about something and it was like she just knew and would pop her head in and come wrap me in a hug.”
Wang also enjoyed spreading happiness to her family and friends. Wang would post light-hearted homemade videos on Facebook and send out comical Snapchats for her family and friends to see. Hill said that Wang had no problem embarrassing herself in public. She would occasionally send him pictures of her playing around at stores or dressing up in costumes.
“She had a one of a kind humor, so witty with the greatest antics and funniest jokes,” Westover wrote in Wang’s eulogy. “She would always make us, and herself, giggle at her clumsiness. She couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without making people crack up.”
Woodland said that hearing Wang laugh was just as enjoyable as hearing her jokes.
“Her laugh will always be imprinted in my mind,” Woodland said. “It was contagious. Her nose would flare when she laughed really hard.”
According to Westover, Wang’s laugh was not only infectious, but it was also unique.
“There were many times when we were at a restaurant, and we would start laughing, but once Sammy started laughing, people at other tables near us, would stop in amazement, look up, wondering, who is that, and she didn’t care,” Westover wrote in Wang’s eulogy. “We loved when she was around to laugh with us.”
Wang was one semester away from graduation. Hill and her family are currently looking to obtain a certificate from the university that will acknowledge Wang’s efforts.
Rocío Hernández can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @rociohdz19.