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Courtesy of organizers of Mary Guo's GoFundMe. 

Mary Guo was killed on Sunday evening, July 26, and was a victim of suspected relationship violence. 

Mary's death was felt across the island as friends, families, teachers and classmates expressed their love for Mary and the exceptional person she was inside and outside of the classroom and hospital. 

Referred to as a “rising star in Hawaiʻi’s healthcare industry,” Provost Michael Bruno addressed the tragic loss on July 29 in a message to the UH community offering his condolences to Mary's loved ones. 

“For the family and friends of Mary, I find myself grasping for the right words to offer comfort and to understand a dark situation. I hope that there will be peace after this pain and that there will be justice,” Bruno said.

Mary graduated from Roosevelt Highschool in 2007 and attended UC Berkeley where she majored in Integrative Biology and Chinese language. She went on to attend graduate school at UH Manoa where she received her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in 2013. She was a registered nurse and enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practitioner program when she died. 

She achieved many academic accolades in her lifetime including the “Outstanding Student Award” while in the MPH program at UH Manoa. 

“I think that she's always really cared about people, always really motivated to help and really wanted a way to help people clinically and personally. I think she really grew in her role in nursing and reaching and touching so many people's lives as well as doing volunteering in so many different ways,” said Tetine Sentell, Mary's MPH professor. 

Annie Valentin, one of Mary’s classmates in the MPH program, was the Executive Director for Project Vision Hawaii, a non-profit organization that brings mobile health screening services to those who face challenges that prevent them from accessing health care services. Valentin recalled the countless times Mary volunteered for Project Vision Hawaii even amongst her busy schedule.

“She assisted with vision screening in schools so helping kids in Title I schools get free glasses and she worked with our homeless populations. We have a mobile hygiene unit that provides hot showers to those experiencing homelessness.  She volunteered with our annual gala as well, also so many community events,” Valentin said. 

Valentin noted however that while she showed up as a faithful volunteer, she showed up as a friend as well. 

“She was there as a colleague, there as a friend, there as someone to talk to, someone to get ice cream with, you know. Everything,” Valentin said. 

In memory of Mary, a GoFundMe was organized to help alleviate the Guo family of memorial and funeral costs. Mary’s spirit was captured in the fond memories written by those who knew her. 

“She will be missed most as a loyal friend, a loving sister and a devoted daughter. Mary brought people together in life, and indeed even in her passing, this remains true,” said friends and family. 

Mary’s loved ones expressed similar sentiments that while she was someone with a bright future ahead of her, what should be remembered are the many accomplishments she achieved in her lifetime. 

“I want her to be remembered for everything she did, not what she could have done or could have been,” said Evan Taniguchi, one of Mary's best friends. 

Taniguchi’s friendship with Guo can be traced back to their freshman year together at Roosevelt Highschool where his first memory of Mary was her running for vice president of their class. 

Taniguchi said that 17 years of friendship is not something that is easily translated into words. From attending high school together to both pursuing education and careers in the medical field, they experienced the highs and lows that come with life. 

“She experienced struggles in her life and setbacks. She was a happy person, but she still experienced her own struggles,” Taniguchi said. 

Her friends, professor and classmates commended Guo’s juggling of the many jobs she worked to continue her education such as being a resident assistant and academic tutor. 

Guo worked in many levels of healthcare such as a lab researcher for childhood obesity prevention research, alcohol and drug division evaluation and epidemiology. She also worked as a hospital intern and project analyst working specifically in preventative care in pediatrics. 

A statement in memory of Mary was released by the UH Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene further detailing the legacy Mary created.

UH Foundation created the Mary Guo Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of her many achievements, her spirit of kindness and her commitment to excellence. Professor Sentell said that her outstanding performance as a student as well as her incredible approach to helping others in both the clinical and non-clinical settings were a few of the reasons UH wanted to honor her legacy with a scholarship foundation. Mary’s family, friends and professors hope that future recipients of these funds will understand the privilege it is to receive something in Mary’s name. 


Esther Kim is the Editor in Chief of Ka Leo. While she is a Bachelor's of Social Work student, she has a passion for writing and wants to use journalism in conjunction with social work to progress conversations surrounding social justice and equity.