Scholarship established in memory of Tracy teen

I’ve interviewed Mike Pihlman, owner and founder of Altamont Cowork (formally Tracy Virtual Office), as a source in a couple stories in the past year or so. I knew him first on Twitter and then I met him – and several others from south county – during a TweetUp held at his 11th Street office last year.

Pihlman is a great source of information. Between Twitter and Facebook, I’ve found out about many happenings in my adopted hometown of Tracy because of him.

It was on his Facebook page I found out about the four teenagers killed in an accident during mid September.

Carol Phan, 17, was one of four teenagers killed in the crash along Schulte Road in Tracy. The other three were Chris Hoovler, 18, Kassandra Bittick, 17, and Robert Bittick, 19.

Phan was Kristen Pihlman’s, Mike’s daughter, best friend. Kristen started her freshman year at University of the Pacific recently. Phan was to attend UC Davis. She was supposed to start the week after the accident.

Since her death, I’ve seen Pihlman transform into a local crusader against “driving stoopid,” as he calls it.

He’s even started a website in her honor at

Philman’s used social networking through Facebook and Twitter to get much of the word out. He’s also talked to locals about the cause.

It’s his way of honoring his daughter’s dear friend.

This morning I received an email from him saying that a scholarship account in Phan’s honor is being established.

From the official site:

“A lasting legacy to our lovely, talented, intelligent daughter and friend. ┬áThis scholarship will provide assistance to a Tracy High IB or Ag Science student who has been accepted to a 4 year college or university, but, may have a hard time affording the costs.”

The hope is to provide between $1,000 and $5,000 for a student fitting that description. There’s more information, including where to donate, here.

When discussing social media, it’s hard sometimes to get past the nonsensical stuff that we all post on sites that feed to other sites that let everyone know what we are doing. When Twitter introduced it’s “retweet” feature, I personally found myself wondering what, if anything I should retweet.

Philman is one person. But the influence that’s grown in the Tracy community, as more people get behind, is proof that moving the message across these channels – even with all the distortion out there – works.

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