Courtesy of Young Dong

Kevin Jiang ENV ’22, a beloved member of the Yale School of the Environment community and US Army veteran, was shot and killed on Saturday night. 

Born in Seattle, Jiang studied environmental sciences at North Seattle College and ecology and biology at the University of Washington, where he graduated magna cum laude. He served in the US Army National Guard for over eight years as an environmental scientist and engineering officer according to his LinkedIn profile, and was also a tank operator. Just over a week ago on Jan. 30, he proposed to his fiancee Zion Perry GRD ’26. He would have celebrated his 27th birthday on Feb. 14.

“Kevin was and is a gift from God,” Perry wrote in an email to the News. “He was a true and righteous man after God’s own heart. Life is so precious and short. My only hope is that he is with his Heavenly Father now in perfect peace.”

Upon his acceptance to YSE, Jiang had written on his Facebook page that he promised to “never stop growing” and helping enact positive change in other people’s lives. 

During his time in New Haven, he was an active member of the Christian Union at Yale. According to the New Haven Independent, Jiang actively volunteered at the Trinity Baptist Church on State Street. His mother was also an active volunteer and had moved from Seattle to live near Jiang in 2019.

“Kevin was one of the most joyful and enthusiastic people I’ve known!” Elizabeth Nassir ’22 wrote in an email to the News. “His smile lit up a room! He was authentic and welcoming, making everyone feel at ease. His love for God and others was evident in the way he spoke and acted. We could always trust him to do the right thing. He loved the outdoors, was an avid fisherman, and was quick to find beauty in even the simplest things. I am so grateful for the time we had with him, and he left me and my friends as better people.”

Many friends and family members took to Jiang’s social media to honor his life and express their condolences upon hearing about his death. 

In a message sent to the Yale community, University President Peter Salovey said that Jiang was an “extraordinary young man” and that he has been in close contact with Jiang’s family. 

“Kevin was an incredible member of our community, a master of environmental science student, due to complete his research and graduate this spring,” Dean of YSE Indy Burke said during a Sunday gathering in Jiang’s honor. “He was a wonderful scholar, a great friend to his schoolmates, a devout Christian with a strong community in his church … This is a terrible loss.”

Young Dong ENV ’21 said that Jiang was “proud of and outspoken about” his identities and experiences –– namely, his military training and Asian-American identity. 

Dong, who was in the same faith community as Jiang, told the News that Jiang was “unreserved” in sharing personal stories and views in environments where people were often more closed off. 

“He loves playing piano,” Dong wrote to the News. “Luckily, YSE’s Sage Hall has an old piano in the hall where you would frequently find him playing melodic pieces after working hours. His smile is contagious, and I always find him thinking of and helping others. I know that he is constantly juggling financial and personal challenges, and his positivity despite challenges make him even more admirable.”

Dong said that Jiang was always especially proactive with academic research for his Master’s degree. He conducted field work to catch and measure fish from Connecticut’s rivers, according to Dong.

Dong added that Jiang will be dearly missed.

“[Jiang] was always very kind and gentle, he had a goofy and amiable personality,” Ryan Dougherty ENV ’22 wrote in a statement to the News. “Always laughing and smiling … I always believed he was genuine and caring.”

New Haven police are investigating Jiang’s death as a homicide. 

Talat Aman | talat.aman@yale.edu

Julia Brown | julia.k.brown@yale.edu