Los Angeles

Scholarship Fund Established to Honor Lightning Strike Victim

The Los Angeles native graduated from Notre Dame High School in 2012 where he was a pitcher for the baseball team

A scholarship fund has been set up in honor of a 20-year-old college student whose life was taken last summer before he began classes at USC, his dream school.

On July 27, Mary and Jay Fagnano's only child, Nick, had stepped into the water in Venice Beach when lightning struck. He later died at a hospital.

"We knew our lives had changed and our journey had changed and we had to come up with a new path," the father said.

The parents decided to start a scholarship fund in Fagnano's name at USC, where he was about to begin as a transfer student.

"The day he passed away, he was in this place in his life where everything had lined up the way he wanted it to," his mother said.

Just a few months later, there is $100,000 in the memorial fund, donated by more than 100 people.

"It's really hard to raise even $100,000 for a scholarship like this, and to be able to do this in just a short few months really shows how much people cared about him and his family," said Jack Knott, the dean of USC's Sol Price School Public Policy. "He wanted to create a vibrant downtown for everyone, including the homeless, not just the wealthy."

Fagnano, who had aspired to be part of the downtown Los Angeles revitalization.

He even encouraged his parents to move into their new condo on Broadway.

"That is our journey now, is to follow in Nick's footsteps," his father said.

The first scholarship money will be awarded in the fall of 2015 in increments of about $5,000.

The USC Price School of Public Policy has set up the Nick Fagnano Memorial Scholarship to support undergraduate transfer students. Anyone who wishes to donate can contact Brent Watson at brw@usc.edu.

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