Erica Chang, motivated by pandemic to help, dies at 24
This obituary is one in a series on people who died in the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about the others here.
Erica Chang, born in Flushing, Queens, graduated from Texas A&M University in 2019 with two degrees. She was a rising star in the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. She had considered a career in medicine, perhaps as a doctor. But when the coronavirus hit, she decided instead to focus on how to provide care better.
“She made the career change to become a project manager,” the company said in a statement, “seeing the need to improve processes in the health care system, especially during a pandemic.”
Ms Chang, who lived in Katy, Texas, just west of Houston, died on April 6 of complications from Covid-19, said Khanh Vu, the company’s chief executive and chief executive officer. She was 24 years old.
His parents were also infected. Her father, Chi-Kai Chang, died of the coronavirus five days later. He was 57 years old.
Among their survivors are her mother, Ling Wang, a housewife, and her younger brother, Felix, who graduated from the University of Houston and recently enrolled in nursing school in Texas. He was attending school and was the only immediate family member not infected with the virus.
Erica Chang was born on April 26, 1996, the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan. His father graduated from engineering school and served in the military there before immigrating to New York, where he ran a laundry with his brother in Brooklyn. He married in 1994, worked for a bank for a decade, and moved the family to Houston in 2007.
After graduating from Hightower High School in Missouri City, south of Houston, which offers a concentrated program in medical sciences, Ms. Chang enrolled in Texas A&M.
She graduated in Biomedicine and Industrial Engineering in 2019 before joining the staff of Fused Industries, an industrial, civil and commercial construction company in Houston, as an engineer.
“She became an engineer because she just enjoys efficiency and problem solving,” Vu said. “Beyond that, she was an extremely empathetic person who cared about everyone’s well-being and what was best for them.”
In 2019, as a university senior, she served as president of the National Conference of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. She managed a virtual version of the conference last year and was a collegiate representative on the company’s board of directors.
Her online memorial service on April 25 echoed tearful memories of friends.
Hamzah Khanout, engineer, recalled “the passion, determination, enthusiasm, optimism and kindness of Ms. Chang”. Shekhar Mitra, President of InnoPreneur, a consultancy firm for start-ups, and former Senior Vice President of Procter & Gamble, said: “She will be forever remembered for her inclusive leadership style, her empathy and her compassion for all who collaborated with her. “