Brian J. Yuen, Forever Flying In Our Hearts

Brian J. Yuen, Forever Flying In Our Hearts

In honor of Brian J. Yuen. Rest easy 10/15/2016


The cactus means so much to me because it reminds me of him.

To celebrate his life, I planted a cactus to create a new one 10.15.18Nicole Ma

Nicole Ma

Brian was older than me by one year. He went to Clements High School whereas I had gone to Austin High School, so we never saw one another as often after he quit club swimming and continued with track and high school swimming instead. Nevertheless, the distance never hindered our friendship. When I had a difficult time with school work, he would stay up past midnight to help me with my chemistry or biology homework. He always offered a listening ear and the best advice. There has never been a moment where I had seen him sad or angry, he always had a smile on his face. I had been looking forward to his awkward smile after being deprived of it for so long at one of our district meets, Fort Bend Classic.

Nicole Ma

During one of the most difficult times I had through swimming, was one of the most rewarding times because I met one of my best friends, Brian Yuen, who never stopped challenging and encouraging me to become the best athlete and person I could be. I remember I used to think he was so intimidating when I had advanced into the same group on First Colony Swim Team as him. But he was so kind. Looking back on that time, it's hard to think that I would think of him as intimidating because of how dorky and compassionate he was. When other people had grabbed partners for underwater racing, we would always be paired with one another and race to the very end together. That's how we became so close to begin with. He'll always be my underwater buddy. I admired him so much for being able to conquer his anxiety with swimming butterfly by continuously racing fly at every meet until he had nothing to fear anymore. He inspired me daily to work hard and keep such a positive and carefree attitude, as I said before, even if we were in different schools and when we were apart. On October 15th, 2016 I watched as he took his last breath before his heart stopped on the deck of our high school swim meet.

I had been so excited to see Brian as they date for our district meet approached. I would always get a Facebook messenger text from him asking me if I was going to be at some kind of event that involved his school. Normally, it would follow up with his disappointment and a sad prickly cactus sticker he sends when I was unable to attend. Or, I would always follow up with the angry cactus sticker, jokingly complaining about how he never wants to see me. The moment he came out of the pool after his team warm-up session, I immediately jumped off the bleachers to meet with him. I gave him the classic slap on the back and told him I was looking forward to catching up with him. Right before I had hopped in the pool for my warm-up session, he came by and slapped me on my back as payback. I commented on how weak he was and how I really missed having my "hobo cactus brother" around. We had always joked about our legs being hairy as swimmers and it was all derived from the first time we met. We stood there talking for a while and I remember promising one another to cheer the loudest for each other in all of our races. "Good luck Nicole, I'll see you later," he said. But later that day, I watched as he struggled to breathe on the side of the pool deck, being pulled away by paramedics.

Multiple people had promised me that he would be okay, and I trusted that. But the moment my friend ran out of the coaches office crying, my entire world shattered. My body felt numb as I was dragged to another room. Brian had passed away. I struggled daily with our last moments being played in my head over and over again. It was rough getting through school and even more rough trying to swim and do the things I loved, knowing that I would not be able to see him again. I knew that he would want me to continue to do my best every day. We honored him by helping his family and raised money with shirts my friend Christy and I designed in memory of him and celebrated his life with a vigil held outside of Don Cook Natatorium.

Part of me saw this as a sign from God. He gave me an opportunity to share one last moment with him before He called him back home. It was a reminder that you really can't take anyone or granted. I saw him bring people together even if he wasn't here anymore. I told my swim coach that I would swim fly at every meet, despite my anxiety. The following week, I swam the 200 IM. I immediately bawled the moment I hit the wall. I knew he would be proud of me, and I'm going to continue to make him proud. I continuously journal and reach out to those people closest to him. To this day, I live on knowing that he would always be flying in my heart.

My Hobo Cactus BrotherNicole Ma

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28 Reasons Why You Should Be Single In College

To all of the single ladies, put your worries to rest. You're right where you are supposed to be.

No matter what college you go to, there is an occurrence people tell you will happen during your four years of "education." College is the time when you will find yourself. As a senior, I cannot agree more with this statement. There are so many qualities about myself I have discovered during my college experience. I have realized who I am, what I like and what I want to do with my life. This doesn't always happen for everyone, though. There is something you have to be in order for this all to come together, and that is completely and utterly on your own.

This is the time to be single, and here are 28 reasons why.

1. You are still figuring out who you are, and you can't do that unless it's just you, your goals, your dreams and that's it.

2. Nothing should ever be holding you back, whether it's studying abroad, going out to the bars Saturday night, or hanging out with friends.

There shouldn't have to be another factor to consider. "Well, I'll miss him," or, "What if we can't spend time together," blah blah blah, you don't need that.

3. If you want to make out with someone at the bar, you can do it.

4. If you want to go on a date with five different people in a week, you can do it.

5. You form a special bond with all your other single friends, and these are the ones you'll stay close with forever.

6. If you want to go somewhere, you can, and you don't have to blink an eye if your significant other wants to go or not.

7. Focusing on you and building yourself is a better way to spend your time than figuring out why he hasn't texted you today or if that rumor of him kissing someone else is true.

8. You don't need self-doubt or wondering what it would have been like to experience these years on your own.

9. If the relationship is really worth it, it can wait.

Put it on hold, let each other do whatever and know when you do get together, you'll never have any what-ifs.

10. You can have a Tinder or a Bumble and use it seriously or just as hilarious entertainment.

11. That queen bed you have? Yeah, it's all yours to sprawl out on.

Still in the dorms? Yeah, you definitely don't even want to try to share that. Then again, maybe you do want to, but the option is all yours. Amazing.

12. Part of being in college is being selfish.

Spend your money, time and energy discovering who you are.

13. You get to be the lead role in your own movie.

14. This is the perfect time to fall in love with more than one thing and more than one person.

15. Oh, and girls, did I mention the endless amount of free drinks? And the front of the line admission into bars and clubs? That should be a selling point on its own.

16. You can flirt with the nerdy guy in your class, the frat guy at the bar, basically whoever and whenever.

17. You won't need to apologize to anyone for the ridiculous and downright questionable actions you made at the bar this past weekend.

18. Your best friend can be a guy or a girl, and there is no drama that comes along with it.

19. Your self-worth comes from you and no one else.

20. You can have as many girls' nights as you please.

21. You don't need to make sacrifices.

Want to go out all night? You can. Want to cry over "The Bachelor?" You can do that, too.

22. You are not someone's property.

You don't have a label.

23. You can go to Vegas with a fraternity one weekend, a date party the next with another and take someone completely different to your barn dance.

Who doesn't like options?

24. You're looking for your bridesmaids in college, not your groom.

25. You're not depending on anyone else.

Your happiness is your own.

26. You're more confident and less psycho (well, hopefully).

27. You get to go out and be excited over the fact your night can end in an endless amount of ways, it will always be a new experience.

28. Freedom – let it ring.

Cover Image Credit: tumblr

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5 Signs Your Boyfriend Might Be A Dirty Rotten Cheater

Now that we have Valentine's Day behind us, I finally feel comfortable bursting your precious love bubble and giving you the real tea on how all of those things you're questioning about your boyfriend are probably just signs he's cheating on you.


I just spent the last week with my jaw on the floor after the discovery that my best friend spent the better part of 2 years with a guy who was actually cheating ( a lot ) basically the entire length of their relationship. And now that we have Valentine's Day behind us, I finally feel comfortable bursting your precious love bubble and giving you the real tea on how all of those things you're questioning about your boyfriend are probably just signs he's cheating on you. If you encounter any of the following 5 signs, then girl you better get the hell outta dodge.

1. You NEVER get the invite to family gatherings.


Brunch with the fam? He's not calling you. Christmas Eve at Aunt Sheryl's? He's not calling you. His sister's birthday party? He's definitely not calling you. It may not seem like a big deal at first, but if he has met your mom, your dad, and your cousins and still isn't inviting you to come along, it's probably because he doesn't want his mom to get confused that he had a totally different girl over last week.

2. He can't stand you being anywhere near his phone.

Cheater's Phone

I would think this one is an obvious red flag, but you'd be surprised how many people believe guys who say they just want you to "respect their privacy." If he is constantly texting, snapping and shoving his phone into his pocket immediately after hitting that lock screen, you may very well be in for a world of hurt. If it's going off at 2 AM, well girl, I shouldn't have to say more to convince you he's cheating.

3. You rarely go out in public.


I know, I know, he's told you a hundred times that he's just a homebody and would rather be snuggled up watching "Catfish" with you than going out anywhere, but that's probably because he is just scared you guys will run into his other girlfriend. If you do end up going out, it's always out of town or something loud and crowded like a concert where you guys would be hard to spot.

4. He NEVER wants to post about you two on social media.

Cell Phone

He says stuff like "Oh, I just don't feel the need to publicize our love." or maybe "I have a crazy ex and I don't want her to harass you online." Those are both actually just lies. What he really wants to say is "I just don't want evidence and time stamps of our relationship in case I get caught." The best is when they tell you about how they like girls who are off the grid. Sounds like a cheater to me...

5. He's constantly accusing you of cheating.


Most girls I know will chalk this up to him just being a jealous guy. But let me tell you something honey, nothing makes you more paranoid than a guilty conscious. If every time you two argue, it divulges into him saying he's not sure if he can trust you or that you have too many guy friends or that he wonders what you're doing on nights without him, well he's probably just manifesting his own fears.

There are no promises here that he is definitely cheating, and if you really trust your man then more power to you. But if any of these signs had you thinking about your own relationship, then I highly recommend that you move on to the next one girl. There are plenty of other fish in the sea, even fish who won't cheat on you!

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