Sunday, December 14, 2008

10 year reunion

Thanks to Michael "Shox" Villanueva, S'02 for setting up a wonderful venue down in Pine Manor over the weekend.

Mike saving fish during the evening, but apparently some girl broke my cup when we took the last group picture. Hot diggity!

I was proud and honored to speak on behalf of my class and wanted to just share with you about one of my brothers who started this organization but recently left this earth to a better place in time.


Tuong Bao Phan was born in Saigon, Vietnam on August 5, 1977. When Tuong was three, his family, like many other immigrants seeking the American dream, came to the States for the opportunity to provide a better education for their children. His family lived in Jersey City for several years and opened a small shop in Union City. A couple years later, they settled in Union where they still live today.
Growing up, Tuong was made fun of because of his small size. Because of this, he joined the Union High School football team, later becoming a well-respected center tackle. He stood out as the only Asian-American to start for the football team by gaining 120lbs in a year and a half. Then with his new found strength, he set a school record for squats, squatting 660lbs four times. Even today, his record still stands.

Besides his talent in football and immense strength, Tuong became high school class president for three years. He also was a accomplished artist, favoring sculptures and black and white paintings. His artwork was displayed at an event held at the Jacob Javits Center, and the famous actor Al Pacino purchased two of his sculptures then and there. If you asked him, Tuong would say that art was the only thing that made him happy. He might also mention that he loves drawing naked people, but found that it was more interesting to sketch the overweight.
Tuong was a star athlete, a student leader and brilliant throughout, testing for Mensa and receiving an IQ score of 168. Naturally, he received full scholarships to various colleges including Harvard University.

After high school, Tuong attended RPI, where he noticed there was a lack of Asian representation in student organizations. Deep inside, he felt something was missing, not only for the students of RPI, but also inside himself.
One day at Binghamton University, Tuong saw Brothers of Pi Delta Psi. In the past, he had gone out to meet other fraternities, but never felt a connection to the values and ideals any of the organizations presented. After meeting the brothers at Binghamton University, he knew that this was the fraternity for him.

Tuong started an interest group for Pi Delta Psi at RPI and before long, he became known as Mongo and became the first brother from RPI. He later transferred to Rutgers University in 1998 and saw the Asian student body was missing a community and voice. Now, as a brother of Pi Delta Psi, Tuong was empowered to lay the foundation for a new brotherhood at Rutgers.

In the fall of 1998, Tuong and nine other Asian-Americans became some of the first brothers of Pi Delta Psi at Rutgers University. Since then, the fraternity has grown in leaps and bounds, welcoming new brothers each and every semester for the past 10 years.
Tuong believed in the ideals that Pi Delta Psi was founded upon. He felt that even when brothers fight or argue, that underneath it all there is love, support, and faith in one another. He believed that despite the inevitable arguing and butting of heads, the Fraternity was of the utmost importance. Tuong knew that love for the fraternity and the memories made within were truly permanent and above anything else.

Now in 2008, Pi Delta Psi is one of dozens of Asian organizations at Rutgers University. Today, a true Asian community exists at Rutgers and Pi Delta Psi is proud to have been a pioneer in creating something that new students today take for granted. Together, the Asian voice at Rutgers is loud and respected. Silenced no longer, Tuong's vision remains as strong and steadfast as ever.

Today, we celebrate a founder, a leader, and a friend. We thank him for everything that he has given to Rutgers University, to our families and friends that have been impacted by the Brothers of this fraternity, and for the dreams and ideals that we're lucky enough to share. Thank you, Tuong. Through us, you will live on forever as we carry the torch for another 10 years.

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