Wendy's tribute to Brenna Innes

Wendy Myrvold: A Tribute to Brenna Jaclyn Innes

"Brenna was my NSERC summer undergraduate student and a member of the CAG group this summer. It is tragic that she died in a fire on Monday August 6, 2007. The news from the Times Colonist gives a more detailed description of the tragedy. I borrowed the picture above (and then cropped it) from Brenna's facebook page- the big smile she has is how I remember her- always happy, and cheerful."

I learned about this tragedy via Jenni Woodcock on Facebook, who also studies Computer Science under Wendy at UVic. I keep thinking about Brenna and how Jenni and Wendy must be feeling right now, and of course Brenna's family... this is my worst nightmare as a parent... (I'll pause here as I gather my thoughts so I can continue writing)

...and considering how close to home it is as a fellow Computer Science student at UVic, and that Brenna was one of Wendy's students, someone I admire so much, well, every time I think of it I get really upset. Like right now.

I don't think I've written about Wendy here, but she's an amazing teacher. I can't think of anyone at UVic who's treated me as well and helped me as much. I took a course with Wendy, CSC 482A: Graph Algorithms. I worked harder in that class than any before or since. I can remember many exciting, challenging and memorable visits in her office talking about the research we were collaborating on (regarding the unknown status of a special class of Sudoku squares). It was the research I did in her class and her confidence in me that made me believe I could be a successful graduate student and researcher. Wendy also talked me into starting to play hockey! A great teacher and a hockey fanatic...

Reading Wendy's tribute to Brenna, reading about the visits they had together, again, it's close to home. I can see Wendy's face talking about Fullerenes with Brenna in her office, the passion she has for her work and how much she enjoys collaborating with eager students, and I can see it in Wendy's writing (the tone and the content) just how talented Brenna must have been.

Let me say, the work Wendy describes Brenna doing in mere weeks and throughout this summer is amazing, especially for a second year student, even if that student had been in the Computer Science program previously, which she hadn't! Clearly, Brenna was brilliant and had a bright future ahead of her, and was fortunate to have found Wendy so soon. I recognize some of the work Brenna did for Wendy as suggested projects for the 4th year / graduate course (Graph Algorithms) I took last fall. Those suggested challenges weren't taken by my class of senior undergraduates or graduate students, or they weren't completed, but Brenna did it. Bravo!

I didn't know Brenna at all, but when I heard the news from Jenni I spent some time reading her Facebook profile... and saw someone who deserved so much better. R.I.P.

Written on August 10, 2007