By David Li, bostonese.com
Just when Hurricane Sandy was making all the headlines, 28-year-old Chinese student Heng Nikita Guo was found dead in her apartment in Cambridge, Mass. on Oct. 26, 2012. Ms. Guo’s death was later ruled a suicide by medical examiner. A second year MBA student at MIT Sloan School of Management, Heng Nikita Guo’s death raised concerns about the unrelenting pressure and workload at top US universities, especially for international students. As students returning campus from winter break, Nikita’s memory is still vivid among her classmates and friends.
Chao Luo, in the same MBA class as Nikita, remembered her as a very outgoing, friendly classmate. “She was very active in various activities at Sloan school. I certainly cannot imagine this can happen to her,” said Mr. Luo.
Born in Lanzhou, China on June 5, 1984, Nikita grew up in a well-to-do family in Shenzhen, a city filled with migrant workers. Located just north of Hong Kong, Shenzhen was at forefront of China’s economical reforms over past 30 years. But, Nikita’s hometown Lanzhou is in the Northwestern part of China, and was lagging behind in economical development.
Having visited rural elementary schools herself, Nikita witnessed the alarming growth of enormous wealth disparity between coastal urban cities and inland rural areas in China. She believed that an empowering education was core to bridging the gap, a root cause for instability and challenge for the country’s sustainable growth. She had a passion in helping the underprivileged children in China.
Nikita graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering. In college, she was an active student leader in promoting awareness of Asian culture and international issues.
One of her friends at Texas A&M took the picture above of Nikita in 2002. “It was among my first attempts into digital photography, and just by chance the picture was one of the best pictures that I have ever taken. It was taken in April 2002. Nikita stood with the blooming wild Texas Bluebonnet with the sunset behind her. When a spring breeze raised up her hair and the sunlight was passing through her hair, I pushed the button.” It was indeed a great picture of Nikita, and a life full of promises left us too soon.
Before attending MIT Sloan, Heng Nikita Guo worked in New York City. She held various positions such as director for developments at the award winning Rural China Education Foundation (RCEF), CEO for the Natural Loong Group, and vice president at RJR Capital Group. She also worked at Ziff Brothers Investments’ private equity group and Citigroup’s investment banking division.