Misti Yang Obituary, Death – After 17 years of marriage, Misti Yang, 44, passed away in her husband Bobby’s presence on March 23, 2023. Her vast, varied existence as a writer, professor, spouse, and friend to so many was characterized by her never-ending curiosity and persistent brilliance.
She worked as a lecturer, independent scholar, freelance writer, and food critic among other positions. She was also eternally attracted by words. Knowing Misti, it should come as no surprise that she considered having a good discussion to be an art. She is renowned for her warm charm and astute humor in her personal life. Misti was born on February 23, 1979, in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2001, she graduated with a B.A. from Wellesley College and began a career that would take her across several states, businesses, and academic disciplines.
She worked as an investment analyst in New York City, an investment salesperson in Atlanta, a social media manager in Las Vegas, and lastly as a professor of communication studies at Vanderbilt University where she specialized in studying how people interact with and perceive technology. On just her third day of employment, no less, she met her future husband Bobby in 2003 while working in the Atlanta auto sales business.
Following a test drive, their romance developed into a lifelong partnership marked by international travel, a love of food and music, and a shared enthusiasm for automobiles. When it came to food, Misti had a palate that was just as adventurous as her mind. She particularly liked Korean cuisine and was a voracious fan of banchan. Misti loved books and ideas, and she hardly ever read without her trusty mechanical pencil in hand, generously “tattooing” her books with annotations.
Her passion for languages undoubtedly contributed to her outstanding academic career. She earned a Master of Arts in Communication Science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2016 and a Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Studies from the University of Maryland in 2021. She most recently worked as a Mellon Associate Professor of the Public Communication of Science and Technology at Vanderbilt University, where she focused on the rhetoric and ethics of technology.
She was loved by her family, friends, and students alike for her warmth, kindness, and smart mind. Her husband Robert “Bobby” Tinshon Yang of Nashville, Tennessee, mother Joanne Brooks Hewatt and partner Greg Bell of Grayson, Georgia, father Franklin “Frankie” Thomas Hewatt and stepmother Janice Stowe Hewatt of Monroe, Georgia, sister Shanda Hewatt Wread of Augusta, Georgia, and a cherished extended family that includes numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins survive her. Misti’s family is working with the University of Maryland’s Department of Communication to establish a named award in her honor to honor her contributions to the leadership and community-building of the department rather than sending flowers.