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This page is a tribute to Jessica Lum, a remarkable journalist, grad student, family member and friend. She passed away Sunday January 13  after a long-fought battle with cancer.

If you knew Jessica, please leave a message or upload a photo.

 

Messages for Jessica:

  1. Anonymous

    It blows my mind it’s almost been 5 years since you passed. I would have loved to see what you did with that time. But I see shades of you in some of the best people in my life. And I treasure the contribution you made to this world.

    Reply
  2. Anna Lum

    I just wanted to express my gratitude to all those who have taken the time to write down their thoughts about Jessica. It will soon be five years, but knowing she’s not forgotten is a comfort to us, her parents. So thank you. And thanks to Jeremy Rue for maintaining this site for us. It’s been a gift.

    Reply
  3. Jeremy Rue Post author

    Hi Jessica! We just wanted to wish you a very happy birthday, and let you know that you haven’t been forgotten…far from it. Your legacy is vibrant and lives on at the J-school! We just gave out the 5th annual Jessica Lum for multimedia excellence award this year. Every year, we get a few students who ask about you, and we get to tell them the story of the courageous woman who once attended school here. The one who was unstoppable and traveled afar to capture life in the desert with her camera. Then we get to show your project. Despite all of the innovations of the last five years, your project holds up extremely well. It works on mobile, the design is striking, and it still impresses every new bunch of students coming through. What can we say? Just like you, it’s timeless. We wish you the best wherever you are. Say hi to Grabowicz for us, and make sure to keep that old grump in check 😉 Love, all the folks at the J-school.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I saw on Facebook that you passed away 4 years ago 🙁 You are missed.
    I made a donation to the Cancer Research Institute in your memory.
    See you on the other side.

    Reply
  5. Anna Lum

    Tomorrow you would have turned 29. Though your birthdays ceased at 25, you are still remembered with much much love. I, for one, will never forget you.

    Reply
  6. Jeffrey

    Hi Jess,
    I only knew you a little from our time in Rieber 5 South. But I was still greatly saddened when I heard of your passing. Just wanted to say I was thinking of you again today. Even though it makes me sad, I still have hope and comfort because of your faith in Christ. Even though you’ve gone on ahead of the rest of us, one day I’ll catch up to where you are. See you then.

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I made donations in your name to UCLA, BOB and the Cancer Research Institute today. I hope that someone can feel just a small fraction more blessed in honor of your life.

    I miss you, Jess. You’re still in my heart. Thank you for being so amazing that you’ll stay there.

    Reply
  8. Anna Lum

    You know if we all think a little deeper, we’d realize that people really do rub off on each other. Like the other day when I went around the house lighting all the candles just because it’s Christmas. (Remember doing that when you were a kid?) Then there were these strange gifts I got for dogs. One for Dakota, 2 for your cousins’ dogs. Where did all that unusual behavior come from? You’d be wondering about that too, Jess, if you were around, tossing me a frowning gaze and asking, “Mom, what’s gotten into you? Since when do you like dogs?”
    Well, I’m afraid you’ve rubbed off on me. I even spent a whole day doing Facebook stuff. The only difference being, I regretted getting nothing else done, but you never had any regrets. You were one social media die-hard, who managed to get other things done as well. No, your multi-tasking abilities never did rub off on me.
    Oh, how I miss you this Christmas.

    Reply
  9. Anna Lum

    The other day I dug up a poem, written in exquisite Chinese, penned by Jessica’s Auntie On-Yee. A friend made a gallant attempt at translating it into English. Thanks to his initial efforts, followed by the joint edits of On-Yee and her husband, along with myself, the final product emerged. It was truly an experience of the merging of two languages in their respective poetic form. The writer in Jess would have appreciated this. We wish to share this poem with all who would visit this site:

    In memory of Jessica

    Wind quietly weeping.
    Like shattered jade and drifting scent she vanished,
    She vanished.
    Landscape sprinkled with tears of moonlight.
    Nightingale choked with sadness

    Too soon she left us still young and beautiful.
    While vivid memories of a splendid life remain forever,
    Remain forever.
    Such pain in the loss, such talent yet to blossom.
    An unwilling farewell heavenwards.

    Written in Chinese by On-Yee So

    Reply
  10. Ed

    Jess was a million words searching for a way to come out. I think that’s why sometimes there was such an undercurrent of emotion under her otherwise innocuous statements. In that way I think we were similar. I think of Jess pretty often these days. I think of the conversations we had, and the ones that we didn’t but probably played out under the words we said. This is just a small thought I wanted to jot down, it certainly won’t be the last. As with all people, there is always more to unravel.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Happy belated birthday, Jess! Sorry I’m always just a little late. This weekend my friends and I were trying to decide what movie to watch on Netflix. Someone voted for Memento, a classic movie which I only know because of you. I only saw bits and pieces of it because you were watching it in our room with friends and I came in a couple times to get some stuff, but I still remember it vividly. Maybe because it was our first year at college and everything was so exciting and fresh, but my memories of you and things related to you are still so vivid. Thanks for introducing me to a world of pop culture and classic films, thanks for being my roommate and for experiencing so many of our college firsts together. Hope you had a wonderful 27th birthday on the other side <3 to my twin sister just 4 days older than me!

    Reply
  12. Matt Nevins

    Jess,

    Thinking of you always, but especially today, on your birthday. I know you’re in a better place now.

    I think of you often, of course, but I definitely had a relatively random great thought of you just this past Wednesday, when I was doing tedious, mindless work while listening to the A’s game on the radio. Fortunately, the A’s beat the Astros 13-1, with the Astros’ lone run coming on a solo home run by Chris Carter. That player, who used to be on the A’s, will always make me think of you. You and I both played hooky on September 22, 2010 for a $2 Wednesday A’s game (because we both just LOVE a good deal). In that game, Chris hit his first major league homer, and without missing a beat, you linked both sports commentary and journalism w/ a nerdy X-Files reference by yelling out, “AND THE TRUTH… IS… OUTTA HERE!” (since the name of the creator of X-Files is Chris Carter as well). I tell people that story quite often, and think of you whenever I see him play.

    I love being able to remember you through things even as random (and trivial!) as that. You’ve truly left your mark in so many places, both large and small, in my life. I love those little reminders of your wonderful creativity, and how special you are.

    Miss you always. So say we all.

    Reply
  13. An Rong Xu

    Your first time in NYC, we went to that crazy Japanese restaurant with all the adult magazines on the walls. We walked out of the restaurant and then the sky opened up and a downpour began. We waited it out, got on the 6 train and walked to Chelsea, where we purchased cheesey fries from a papaya dog, and they were terrible. Eventually we got to the water front and made some long exposure photographs, and we laughed, and got to spend time together. I miss you.

    Reply
  14. Lea Williams

    Jess,

    3 days away from our mutual birthday and it still seems so strange that you’re not having some adventure here on earth. From the days of middle school, sharing in our mutual excitement, realizing that we shared the same birthday and were born in the same hospital. I know I didn’t meet you by chance. There are so many memories, it’s hard to pick out just one…passing notes back and forth in high school accompanied by your hilarious drawings with inevitable references to the Matrix, coming with you to your youth group, later visiting you at UCLA, and you and Chris coming to stay with me in Hawaii and explore beautiful O’ahu. I miss your beautiful spirit and your presence. Wishing you a happy early birthday, Jess. I miss you!

    Reply
  15. Anna Lum

    Dear Anonymous,

    Whoever you are, I wanted you to know that as her mother who loved her more than anyone could comprehend, I really appreciated what you posted about our Jess. I would also like to confirm the authorship of that quote you so carefully preserved. Indeed it was Jess, in a style uniquely hers. At her celebration of life, I stated to all who attended that Jess was “one of a kind.” That’s how I remember my Jess, and that’s also why it was challenging raising her. Pouring into her life was one of my greatest blessings, even if I lost her so soon. Thank you all for your comforting and encouraging words. Keep them coming.

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    I have a distinct and vivid memory of sitting across a table from Jess, on a beautiful September afternoon, surrounded by fellow students. This was shortly after I met her, during my sophomore year at UCLA. What strikes me, even now, was how at ease she was. To me she seemed perfectly relaxed, laughing and talking like there was no other place in the world for her at that moment. While the rest of us might spin around the sun or galaxy or other gravitational mass out in the depths of space, Jess always seemed to exist independent of any outside force. Life spun around Jess like she was the controlling force. She was rooted and accepted where she found herself, and there was nothing left for life to do but hum around her as she took it all in.

    Any moment you were with Jess you knew she was right there with you. For the time you spent together, she was your partner in crime (and she was /very/ talented at making you feel like partners in crime). I won’t say that Jess lived in the moment because I’m sure she planned and hoped and dreamed as much as any of us do, but she had a way of perceiving and experiencing the moment which was very rare. And I think that’s why so many of us, so many of her friends and acquaintances, can remember the moments we spent with her so vividly and powerfully. It’s what made her such a phenomenal photographer. She appreciated every moment of life as it came to her, reacting with joy or contemplation or even sarcasm, but she appreciated it purely as a moment in life to be experienced. That’s why so many of the moments with Jess felt special. They felt like living.

    I’m not one who usually reads blogs, but after I met Jess that sophomore year I read the blog she was keeping in its entirety. This was before her diagnosis, before I thought there would ever be a limit on the time our friendship would have. But her personality was infectious, and I think everyone close to Jess can attest that after meeting her they wanted to absorb as much of her as they possibly could, whether through her words, photographs or personal interactions. This is why I devoured everything Jess produced – her work was a means of understanding her better and getting closer to her. I have read exceptional writing without a second thought about the author, but with Jess my motivations were far more personal. I read her writing because /she/ was exceptional and her work could only portray fractions of that beauty.

    While I was reading her blog some 5 years ago I came across a quote that I copied down. It inspired me, and I hope it can inspire the people who knew and loved Jess. I can’t find the quote online so I have no way of proving that Jess wrote it (from what I understand she deleted much of her old posts after her diagnosis), but hopefully for those who knew her they can recognize Jess’ voice shining through:

    “There’s something truly novel about recording the world the way I see it. And in a strange way, photography also makes me change my perspective of the world around me. It forces me to look at the normal, the plain, the mundane, in a different way. Kinda makes me appreciate the small things in life a little more. It makes me notice the tough little flower (or pretty weed) growing out of the tennis court, or the harmonious geometry of pipes in a dingy parking garage.

    Photography makes me appreciate things for just /being/. It simply reflects the inspiring reality that I see. In a sense, it parallels writing. I write what I know, what I feel, what I see. I write to express what I perceive. And just like writing, my photography isn’t necessarily for other people’s enjoyment. When I write and when I take pictures, I realize that it isn’t me trying to create something, it’s me trying to preserve the moment. But in preserving the moment, I’m not trying to battle against the inevitability of time passing. I’m simply trying to understand the moment.

    And I’m trying to understand myself. Myself in relation to the moment. Myself in relation to the people around me. Myself in relation to the world around me, because there are things bigger than myself out there.”
    – Jessica Lum

    It’s taken me over a year to write this, and for that I’m sorry. I want it to be perfect, but I know that’s impossible. I only hope that those who knew Jess are reminded, if only briefly, of how much she meant.

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    I have a distinct and vivid memory of sitting across a table from Jess, on a beautiful September afternoon, surrounded by fellow students. This was shortly after I met her, during my sophomore year at UCLA. What strikes me, even now, was how at ease she was. To me she seemed perfectly relaxed, laughing and talking like there was no other place in the world for her at that moment. While the rest of us might spin around the sun or galaxy or other gravitational mass out in the depths of space, Jess always seemed to exist independent of any outside force. Life spun around Jess like she was the controlling force. She was rooted and accepted where she found herself, and there was nothing left for life to do but hum around her as she took it all in.

    Any moment you were with Jess you knew she was right there with you. For the time you spent together, she was your partner in crime (and she was /very/ talented at making you feel like partners in crime). I won’t say that Jess lived in the moment because I’m sure she planned and hoped and dreamed as much as any of us do, but she had a way of perceiving and experiencing the moment which was very rare. And I think that’s why so many of us, so many of her friends and acquaintances, can remember the moments we spent with her so vividly and powerfully. It’s what made her such a phenomenal photographer. She appreciated every moment of life as it came to her, reacting with joy or contemplation or even sarcasm, but she appreciated it purely as a moment in life to be experienced. That’s why so many of the moments with Jess felt special. They felt like living.
    I’m not one who usually reads blogs, but after I met Jess that sophomore year I read the blog she was keeping in its entirety. This was before her diagnosis, before I thought there would ever be a limit on the time our friendship would have. But her personality was infectious, and I think everyone close to Jess can attest that after meeting her they wanted to absorb as much of her as they possibly could, whether through her words, photographs or personal interactions. This is why I devoured everything Jess produced – her work was a means of understanding her better and getting closer to her. I have read exceptional writing without a second thought about the author, but with Jess my motivations were far more personal. I read her writing because /she/ was exceptional and her work could only portray fractions of that beauty.
    While I was reading her blog some 5 years ago I came across a quote that I copied down. It inspired me, and I hope it can inspire the people who knew and loved Jess. I can’t find the quote online so I have no way of proving that Jess wrote it (from what I understand she deleted much of her old posts after her diagnosis), but hopefully for those who knew her they can recognize Jess’ voice shining through:

    “There’s something truly novel about recording the world the way I see it. And in a strange way, photography also makes me change my perspective of the world around me. It forces me to look at the normal, the plain, the mundane, in a different way. Kinda makes me appreciate the small things in life a little more. It makes me notice the tough little flower (or pretty weed) growing out of the tennis court, or the harmonious geometry of pipes in a dingy parking garage.

    Photography makes me appreciate things for just /being/. It simply reflects the inspiring reality that I see. In a sense, it parallels writing. I write what I know, what I feel, what I see. I write to express what I perceive. And just like writing, my photography isn’t necessarily for other people’s enjoyment. When I write and when I take pictures, I realize that it isn’t me trying to create something, it’s me trying to preserve the moment. But in preserving the moment, I’m not trying to battle against the inevitability of time passing. I’m simply trying to understand the moment.

    And I’m trying to understand myself. Myself in relation to the moment. Myself in relation to the people around me. Myself in relation to the world around me, because there are things bigger than myself out there.”
    – Jessica Lum

    It’s taken me over a year to write this, and for that I’m sorry. I want it to be perfect, but I know that’s impossible. I only hope that those who knew Jess are reminded, if only briefly, of how much she meant.

    Reply
  18. Anna Lum

    Jessica,

    Tonight’s PBS Grammy salute to the Beatles featured the song, “In my Life.” Those who attended your celebration of life service would recognize that piece to be part of the background to the slides showing snippets of your life. I hadn’t realized it was your favorite Beatles song until one of your close friends told me. I found myself wondering what you liked about the song. Was it the nostalgic tone? The message of love? What in your life did this song speak to? Though the program tonight was a salute to the pop band in the 60’s, my thoughts were of you. Whether meant as a love song, or one of reminiscing past memories, the song brought back thoughts of you and your life. I miss you. The yearning I have of seeing you again makes me yearn for heaven ever so much more. Until then, the music and lyrics ring in my heart with reminders of you.

    Reply
  19. Anna Lum

    It’s been a year. Quite a year, in fact. One common thread: We are told in different ways that Jess’s life has impacted more people than we realized. For that we are grateful. Praying that the impact would last and be of much substance.
    Since Jess’s departure our family has seen several more deaths, some the normal ones of aging, others “premature,” accidental, and some tragic. Nothing in life do we take for granted. It is a mere vapor. God alone numbers our days. We are all under grace.
    Besides the God whom we believe in, our comfort continues to be derived from her friends who still connect with us in real ways. Thus we are assured that Jess is not forgotten, and much loved. Thank you to all who have expressed their love to us, and thus to her.

    Reply
  20. Alessandro Falco

    I am truly honored to receive the Jessica Lum Award in memory of such young and talented photojournalist.
    Her ability in telling the beauty of life, together with her enthusiasm in living their own, is a powerful example for all us.
    A sincere hug to Jessica’s Family.

    Reply
  21. B. Tam

    After attending Jessica’s memorial service, which impacted me deeply, I returned to the local jail where I perform chaplain duties. I titled my message “See You on the Other Side.” In it I summarized Jessica’s recent journey to a large audience of inmates and asked them whether they would see her on the other side. While Jessica had expressed uncertainty that she was good enough for heaven, in the end she realized that she didn’t have to be good enough, just forgiven. As a result of her story, many inmates became believers in Jesus Christ, just as Jessica acknowledged in her last days. Aside from her extraordinary talents, determination and courage, this last act of turning to Jesus needs to be included in Jessica’s legacy to the world, a legacy that is a testament to God’s grace and love.

    Reply
  22. Slab-City.com

    Hi Jess,

    Look how many people like you. Like your spirit. Like your bravery. You life, your actions, your creative thoughts and photography…all remembered forever on the internet all over.

    But more importantly, remembered in our hearts…You keep living with-in us all.

    Reply
  23. Maggie Shine

    Hi Jess, you were in my dream the other night. I still can’t believe you’re not here, and I miss your wit and energy. I think about you all the time.

    Reply
  24. Janice Tamburino

    Jessica
    Who is this, whom I have come to see?
    Dark, dancing eyes and long black hair.
    A smile with questions at the corners.
    Simple and graceful, yet,
    Unhesitant with truth,
    Sincere and honest and innocent enough
    That she got inside my head and my heart and
    Caused in me, a quiet change.
    Perhaps, because of her easy confidence
    In the face of unspeakable heartbreak,
    I have become more insightful and
    More thoughtful by knowing her.
    I have come to value this small package of
    Gracious Courage opening before me.
    In small and subtle ways I discover her story.
    The times when she is at peace, when
    I can see into the heart of this woman
    She shows me strength
    Derived from Dignity.
    I learn how she
    Compels her will to comply to
    Her commands. And
    I witness a keen bravery
    Few could know.
    I wonder what other gifts
    She secretly keeps within.
    A dynasty of ancestors
    Enclose her with adoration
    And I regard with awe the depth of
    Affection in which she rests.
    In the times when I can see
    Into the heart of this Woman
    I am privileged to share with her
    A searching intimacy.
    In that moment, when eyes,
    One of the other, meet
    And fasten in friendly confidence,
    We understand at once that
    Our mortality is jointly bound.
    But, it is she, alone,
    Who has roamed the
    Tender paths of sorrow.
    And it is she
    Who keeps watch on her heart and
    Protects it against the
    Lamenting Affliction.
    In the face of
    Unceasing discomfort
    She declares a life of
    Truth and Beauty.
    And in the times when
    I greet the heart of this Woman,
    She allows me to discern
    A quiet devotion to
    Her Own Singing Heart.

    Janice Tamburino, RN
    Hospice
    1/13/13

    Reply
  25. Linda Law, aunt

    Remembering: Joint family vacations with my family when as a toddler Jessica would sneak out of bed to see what the adults were up to. On long drives, she would fight falling asleep so as not to miss out on passing scenery. As a four-year-old visiting at my home, she pounded with all her might on a 10 year-old boy weighing 120 lbs even though she got nowhere. I missed catching up with her during her college days, as I observed her drive to pursue her dreams. She inspired me and others to treat each day as if it were our last.

    Jessica, you are probably interviewing Moses, Elijah, Paul, Timothy, etc in heaven right now. We will see you again someday!! Our God promised that!!

    Reply
  26. Amy Emmert

    After I found out that Jessica had passed away, I re-read the column she wrote for the Daily Bruin after her trip to Thailand to report on UCLA’s involvement in treating the AIDS epidemic in Southeast Asia. In her column, she talked about some of the awkward and downright dangerous situations she’d put herself in in order to leave no dark corners of this topic unexplored. Re-reading it, I was moved to tears realizing that Jessica had all of the qualities all along that she would need to fight this cancer she would end up being diagnosed with just months later. She was brave, she was open-minded and open-hearted, she was friendly and sweet and charming, but at the same time she was tough and unrelenting. The qualities that made her a talented young journalist also gave her the strength and spirit to fight for her life.

    One of our current students at the Daily Bruin recently asked me how it was that she knew about Jessica, given that they never crossed paths at UCLA. I told her that I think it’s because the Daily Bruin really is a family, in the truest sense of that word, and in the same way that you learn about, tell stories about and cherish the memory of your ancestors, we at the Daily Bruin keep students like Jessica alive in our shared family narrative. Jessica will always be in the Daily Bruin newsroom. The students who sit in the photo chairs she once occupied, who crouch at the sidelines of football games with camera in hand, who meet and make lifelong friends in our newsroom, and who eventually step into the world ready to touch it with their talent … they embody Jessica and will bear living, breathing witness to her memory forever.

    Reply
  27. Susanne Coleman

    I had known Jessica since her birth, and through the years heard of her accomplishments and many adventures. She grew to be a determined and courageous young woman and we were all privileged to have known her and to have admired her many gifts to the world. We will miss her terribly.

    Reply
  28. Julia Chan

    Jessica was one of my closest friends in grad school. I wish we had become friends sooner, but we didn’t really connect until the summer between our first and second years in the program, when we were both interning in Los Angeles. I didn’t know LA very well, and I was lucky to have Jess show me around. She was always eager to get out and do something fun. On weekends, we bonded over dim sum in Roseville. We watched movies under the stars in Hollywood. We drove up the coast to Malibu, soaking in the sun and scenery. It was the best summer of my life, I now realize, thanks in large part to her. Bogie and Bergman will always have Paris; Jess and I will always have LA.

    In our second year of grad school, we were both really busy with our master’s projects, but we always found time to grab lunch together and bounce ideas off of each other when we were working in one of the j-school newsrooms. I loved talking with her, and looking back, I wish I hadn’t taken those conversations for granted. She was exactly the kind of person I was hoping to meet in grad school, someone I had always hoped I would befriend: exceptionally smart, incredibly talented, and downright funny. I was drawn to her amazing, sharp wit, and she made me laugh like no one else could. Jessica was also so gifted, and yet she was so humble about it. She saw the world in a unique way, and she captured that with her camera. We’re lucky she left us with so many beautiful photographs to remember her by.

    Jessica’s sense of adventure was unparalleled. She loved going to new places and exploring what the world had to offer. Every week she had a new idea of how she wanted to live her life. After her Slab City trip, she wondered what it would be like to live in an RV. Another week she talked about living on a boat. Another week she said she could see herself in Hawaii. I didn’t realize this until much later, but the common thread was this: She just wanted to live.

    Despite her health problems, Jess persevered to complete her Slab City project. We spent many nights in the school computer labs, and when it was time to take a break, I was always in awe of what she had to show me, no matter how rough or raw she claimed it was. She unveiled Slab City Stories for the first time at an Open Show screening at the j-school. Jess tried to shrug it off as no big deal, but her parents insisted they be there for it. They were so proud. I sat in the back, and when it was her turn to present, I watched her dad dart around the room with his camera to get the best shot of her. I saw so much of Jess in that.

    Reply
  29. Kevin Potter

    I met Jessica when we lived on the same floor freshman year at UCLA. She was a friendly person with a ready smile. I never heard her say a mean or judgmental thing about anyone. I ran into her every now and then through the rest of college, including a memorable chance encounter where I learned first-hand that she was a decent Tekken player. I’m glad to have known her.

    Reply
  30. Gary Fong

    Over the years, I’ve met a lot of young journalist in the industry…but few with the drive and brilliance that surrounded Jessica’s sense of curiosity. She knew where she wanted to go and didn’t waste any steps getting there. If there were a definition of curiosity, determination, and brilliance in a dictionary, it would be a picture of Jessica Lum, smiling like the world stood before her.

    Reply
  31. Jeremy Rue Post author

    Jessica was such a remarkable person. The staff and faculty at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism are so proud of her. We are honored that we had the opportunity to know her and work with her.

    Reply

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