Maurita Tam

Maurita Tam
World Trade Center

Awesome, but With a Giggle

Perfect was not quite the right word for Maurita Tam of Staten Island. After all, she flunked her first driving test.

Smart? At 22, she spoke Japanese, Korean, French, Cantonese, Mandarin and English. She flew through Manhattan's Stuyvesant High School and Amherst College, where she was an economics whiz. And where she was computer-comfortable enough to be a Webmaster of several sites.

But smart isn't the whole tale. She was not just a bookworm: she had a yellow belt in tae kwon do and was a leader of an Asian student group at Amherst.


She played piano, sang exuberantly in the college choir and painted.

Fun-loving? She was frisky and gregarious. Her mother, Julie Tam, chided her halfheartedly about her unladylike giggle. "She would giggle at every little thing and kick both legs up in the air," Mrs. Tam recalled. Her room at college was a flop-stop for so many friends, who giggled with her, teased her about a pinup poster of an Asian performer and picked her brain.

On one Web site, a friend of Ms. Tam's suggests "crazywonderful" to describe her. Almost there.

Ms. Tam, an executive assistant at Aon Corporation, whose uncle Wai Chung also died in the World Trade Center attack, described herself best.

"I'm awesome!" she would shout, dissolving into giggles.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 10, 2002.

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