Juan Ramon Ortiz

Juan Ramon Ortiz

Hometown: Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Age: 26

Class: Graduate Student

Major: Civil Engineering

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Profile: Juan Ramon Ortiz was studious and serious, but he also loved salsa and played the timbales.

The 26-year-old from Puerto Rico came to Virginia Tech in August 2006 to earn a master's degree in civil engineering. His wife, Liselle Vega Cortes, 28, also an engineering student, came, too. They settled into a small apartment near campus.

They spent most nights studying. When they need a break, they watched action movies.

"We were both very committed to our studies," Cortes said. "We didn't go out very often."

Monday began like any other for the couple. They drove to campus, said goodbye and headed to different classes. When Cortes heard about the shootings, she began a frantic search for her husband.

"I tried to reach him by phone and e-mail and I couldn't," she said. "I started looking at each hospital, and I couldn't find him." That evening, she learned he had been killed.

The couple met a few years ago as students at Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. She caught his eye in a class, and soon they were dating. They married in October 2005.

Polytechnic University President Ernesto Vazquez Barquet said Ortiz was president of the university's chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and, as a senior, tutored younger students. He graduated magna cum laude and worked for a year before he and his wife came to Virginia Tech.

Cortes said she returned to the apartment for a few moments, but it was too difficult to stay.

"I love him," she said. "I still love him with all my heart."

-- Maria Glod, The Washington Post


© 2007 The Washington Post Company