Henry Lee

Henry Lee

Hometown: Roanoke, Va.

Major: Computer Engineering

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Profile: When Henry Lee learned he would be graduating second in his high school class last year, he was horrified to hear he had to give a speech at commencement.

"He said, 'Oh no, I can't do it,' and I said, 'Yes, you can, you have worked hard for this honor,' " said Susan Willis, principal of William Fleming High School in Roanoke. She spoke a day after Lee was killed in his 9 a.m. class at Virginia Tech, where he was studying computer engineering.

Lee finally summoned the courage to give the speech in front of 5,000 people. He spoke of coming to the United States as an immigrant from China and how hard it had been to not understand English.

"It was so moving," said Willis, adding that Lee, who became a U.S. citizen and changed his name from Henh Ly shortly before he graduated, spoke to a crowd that included many immigrants.

"He said, 'If I can do it, you can, too,' and we were all moved to tears. And afterward he grabbed me and said, 'Thank you for making me do this.' "

Lee, a member of his high school's French Honor Society and vice president of its Beta Club, graduated with an International Baccalaureate diploma.

Besides being a stellar student, the college freshman had a dry sense of humor. On his Facebook account, he listed groups he belonged to, including one called "My Name Is Henry Lee," whose 32 members share the name. "Wouldn't it be awesome if we have a Henry Lee convention?" Lee wrote on that page. "We wouldn't need name tags."

-- Tara Bahrampour, The Washington Post


© 2007 The Washington Post Company