When 3-year-old Crystal Wang and her family took a tour of Harvard University in 2004, her father took a photograph of her smiling alongside campus police officer Charles Marren. Fifteen years later, Wang returned to Harvard as a student — and recreated the memorable photo.
Throughout her life, the Houston native said she had her sights set on opportunity. "My parents came to America to give me a better future," Wang told the Harvard Gazette. Wang described the photo with Marren as "a glimpse into the future."
Last spring, Wang was accepted into Harvard's dual-degree program with Berklee College of Music. To celebrate, she posted the photo from her childhood Harvard visit on Instagram.
Then, when she arrived on campus as a student, she recreated the shot.
When Marren and Wang met to redo the photo, he let her sit on his motorcycle and assured her that she could always count on him. "In your time here, if there's anything you need, any issues you have in any way, let me know," he said, according to the Gazette. In return, the music student gave Marren a copy of the 2004 photo and her new album.
A photographer for the school paper captured the sentimental shot, which later went viral.
Marren is a 19-year police force veteran who works for the Harvard University Police Department and is a well-known figure on campus. "I might be more photographed than the statue," Marren told the Harvard Gazette, referring to a famous statue of the college's co-founder.
Marren joined the police force after retiring from the Marine Corps. He's served in Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and Washington, D.C., and has since spent 15 years patrolling Harvard Yard full time, the Gazette reports.
Marren's supervisor described the officer as someone who comes to work with a smile on his face. "He enjoys meeting and helping people, and that is why he is successful," Deputy Denis Downing told the Gazette. "He is an officer whom I can always count on."
Marren explained what fuels his connection with the students. "In life you never know a person's story, so be real. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated," Marren told the Gazette. "It's also nice that HUPD gets recognized for all of the around-the-clock hard work that we do."