Sean Choi doesn't want closure.
To Choi, closure means that he'll have to move on from the death of his friend, Ahsim Ahmed, who was killed in a car accident last year along Diffley Road in Eagan. Closure means he would have to leave Ahmed's memory in the past.
Instead, Choi wants to remember him—to build a legacy for Ahmed, an Eagan High School graduate who touched many lives, including Choi's.
Which is why, in the months following Ahmed's death, Choi and several other students began raising money. At first, they wanted to donate the money to Ahmed's family. Eventually, however, the group decided to create a $500 Eagan Foundation scholarship in Ahmed's name.
"I have a strong idea that he really is still with us in spirit," said Choi, who graduated from EHS in 2011 and is now studying at Baylor University. "I don’t think it’s a concious thing, like he’s a ghost floating above me, but just the idea that we all think about him and constantly factor him into our own lives."
Choi first met Ahmed in a European history course at Eagan High School. Although he was never one of Ahmed's closest friends, Choi felt an affinity and respect for Ahmed, who he called an "entrepreneur of life."
"He was passionate about everything he learned," Choi said. "He was one of those guys that, if he had an idea about something, would be the first to tell you about it."
Ahmed's death in 2012 was a reality check for Choi and his classmates, Choi said.
"After the accident, and all that happened, it was so incredibly shocking for all of us," Choi said. "Our own mortality isn’t something you think of on a daily basis."
Choi didn't want to focus on negative emotions, like sadness. But he didn't want to accept Ahmed's death and move on, either.
So Choi and his classmates Will Johnson and Christina Johnson began selling t-shirts and wristbands in Ahmed's memory. The wristbands were marked with the words "Forever Famous", and the date of Ahmed's birth and death.
The t-shirts and wristbands earned the group roughly $300, Choi said. The students spoke with Ahmed's family, which asked the group to put the money toward a cause, Choi said. Choi decided to give the money to the Eagan Foundation, and is donating an additional $200 of his own money to hit the $500 minimum cut-off for a foundation scholarship.
The scholarship, Choi said, will be given to a student with demonstrated musical and philanthropic interests. It is just one of more than 100 scholarships that will be distributed by the Eagan Foundation this spring, according to Eagan Foundation Board Chair Michael Proebstle.
Last year, the foundation gave away 93 scholarships worth $74,100 to graduating Eagan High School students. This year, the foundation will distribute 118 scholarships worth $100,000—a new record for the foundation, which has never crossed the $100,000 threshold before.
"Ultimately, I hope that [the recipient of the scholarship] understands that someone else’s life was lost and the physical recreation of that loss is a scholarship. That [Ahmed's] spirit, his legacy is living in this scholarship," Choi said.