• The Blue and White Magazine

Kirk Wu, Columbia College sophomore, has passed away

Updated: Sep 4

Kirk Wu, a sophomore in Columbia College, passed away on Thursday, October 11th in McBain Hall. Wu came to Columbia from Pasadena, California. There, he was recognized for the positive difference he made at San Marino High School with the school’s Promethean award, presented to “graduates who have displayed character, courage, and kindness,” through his participation in debate, science, and math competitions. He was the president of his high school’s Model United Nations and Mock Trial teams.


Wu attended the 2017 Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program (COÖP), where he made some of his first Columbia friends paddling through Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania on the river-canoeing trip.


Early on, he dived into the consulting and economics world at Columbia. He helped consult for Teach for America as part 180 Degrees Consulting. He became a senior editor at the Columbia Economics Review and served as a research assistant under Professor Wouter Vergote, looking into the impact of first-degree price discrimination. Wu won the 2018 Columbia Economics Competition for a paper on income distribution.


At the time of his passing, Wu worked as a financial analyst intern at Start Small Think Big, Inc., where he helped small businesses formalize their finances. In his spare time, he participated in Columbia Taekwondo and enjoyed birdwatching in Central Park.


The New York Post erroneously reported that he was 27 at the time of death. The Columbia Daily Spectator later reported he was 19.


Columbia will offer a space to remember Wu today until 10 p.m. in the first floor of his residence hall, McBain. The Office of the University Chaplain will also offer counseling from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Schiff Room, located in Earl Hall and will resume counseling hours tomorrow from 12:00-5:00 p.m. in the same location.


If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression or thoughts of suicide, Columbia Counseling and Psychological Services can be reached 24/7 at (212)-854-2878 to be connected with support. In addition to CPS, Columbia’s Nightline Peer Listening Service can be reached at (212)-854-7777, and is open every night while school is in session from 10:00 p.m.–3:00 a.m. The National Suicide Prevention hotline can be reached at (800)-273-8255.

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