WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Asia Cottom's parents remember a smart, bubbly 11-year-old who loved math and science and dreamed of becoming a pediatrician.
"We are all here on Earth as an assignment. Asia knew her assignment would be shorter," Michelle Cottom, Asia's mother, said.
Asia was one of three D.C. middle schoolers flying to California on September 11, 2001, for a National Geographic scholars program.
Clifton Cotton, her father, still remembers dropping her off at Dulles.
"Got my hug, got my kiss. She said 'I'll see you when I get back. See you soon,'" Clifton said.
On his way back to work, Clifton heard the news about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and then the jet piercing the Pentagon.
"I knew then, cause I said to two of my co-workers, that's my daughter's plane," Clifton said.
Friday will mark 14 years since Asia Cottom's death. Grieving for their daughter has never gotten easier for her parents. But they've channeled Asia's memory into a determination to make the lives of dozens of young people better.
In the last 14 years, their Asia Cottom Foundation has given out $250,000 in scholarships to 19 college and graduate students who want to make the world a better place.
One student is Howard University Divinity School graduate student Herbert Jackson III.
"It made a big difference. It let me know that I could keep going. And I could do it. That someone else wanted to invest in me and my education," Jackson III said.
Instead of just a pediatrician, Asia's parents now say they have doctors, lawyers, nurses, ministers and IT experts, all studying or graduating with money they've raised in her memory.
"It's the experience of watching Asia graduate over and over and over," Michelle said.
Asia Cottom would have turned 25 this year. So on Friday, her family will bring 25 pink balloons to a fundraiser next door to Ben's Chili Bowl. And at 9:37, the moment the plane went into the Pentagon, they'll release them in her memory.
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