The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has set up a fund in honor of Chinese visiting scholar Yingying Zhang, who was abducted and murdered in 2017.
“Yingying’s Fund” will provide financial support to international students enrolled at the university as well as their parents when they need it the most.
“The Fund shall provide support for international UIUC students who experience emergencies or other situations where they are in urgent need of access to funds to address the urgent situation, and ideally continue their education,” the university post reads.
“It may also be used to support familial travel expenses, which may include but not limited to airfare, lodging, and meals, for the student’s immediate family member(s) to support the student during their time of need.”
Zhang was last seen on June 9, 2017. The 26-year-old international student had only been studying at the university for a few months before her disappearance.
Surveillance camera footage captured Zhang getting picked up by a car driven by Brendt Christensen, a former student and teaching assistant at the university. He was arrested and charged with kidnapping on June 30, 2017.
The 29-year-old suspect was found guilty of rape and murder in June 2019. That same month, Christensen made an offer to reveal the remains of Zhang in exchange for a life sentence instead of the death penalty.
Born in Nanping, China on Dec. 21, 1990, Zhang conducted research at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences within the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) as a visiting scholar.
She had plans to study at the University of Illinois to pursue her dream of becoming a professor back in China.
As of the time of writing, 513 people have already supported the fund and raised $63,000.
Featured Image Screenshot via The Campaign for Illinois