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Victoria Nguyen got the most out of a shortened life

Published Jul. 14, 2012

TAMPA — When the club was packed and the music pumped full force, Victoria Nguyen broke out her move, a kind of shoulder-juking shake that had friends dancing in a circle around her.

Ms. Nguyen loved clubbing and concerts, warm beaches and chilly rivers, eating at restaurants or making cupcakes with vanilla icing.

Strangers might have seen an attractive woman who lived for the party.

But Ms. Nguyen's family and many friends knew her as a hard worker who had a good job and a bright future. She was a peppy counselor who could pull them out of the dumps with a joke or talk tough to them if they needed it.

Her family and friends are now trying to come to grips with her death. Ms. Nguyen died Sunday after she went to Tampa General Hospital with a fever and breathing problems. She was 28.

"She was funny, witty, very quick on her feet," said friend Rotem Dayan, 32. "You wouldn't know how she even thought of it."

Sometimes it was her spontaneous wordplay.

"You'd say something and she'd make up a word or phrase that was related," said Sonia Flores, 28. When a group started a camping trip in a well-appointed log cabin, Ms. Nguyen called it "glamping."

She was born and raised in South Tampa, where parents Hung and Van Nguyen settled after leaving Vietnam.

Ms. Nguyen graduated from H.B. Plant High School and USF, where she studied marketing and was a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.

She was working for the consulting firm ASPire Financial Services in Tampa.

"She was always on the go, she always had an event or a function," said Justina Nguyen, 26, her sister. "She was a bridesmaid in many weddings."

One day she might get married, she told friends. If so, her colors would be purple and silver, she had decided.

Ms. Nguyen entered the hospital Sunday after having complained of fever, chills and trouble breathing. Her condition worsened and she died that day. Ms. Nguyen was 28. The Hillsborough County medical examiner's office is investigating.

Friends and family are coping but are in shock. To get through it, some think of how she had helped them.

"She would always say, 'There is a reason for everything,' " Flores said. "Regardless of what you were going through, she would make you laugh and say, 'You're going to get through it.'

That's what we're trying to do now."

Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248.

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