To the musical lament of two cellos, family and friends of fallen Bulls gathered on the Crescent Hill behind the Marshall Student Center on Saturday morning in a memorial service for students who passed away in the last year.
The service began with a spiritual reflection from the Baptist Collegiate Ministry minister Rahul Agarwal as well as words from USF President Judy Genshaft, Student Government members and loved ones of those passed.
After the speakers, mourners moved in a short procession to Crescent Hill to lay down the white carnations that were given to all mourners to represent fallen loved ones.
The white carnations were laid at the foot of USF’s Fallen Bull Memorial. Styled after the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the monument commemorates students who died while enrolled at the university. The memorial is carved with some 50 names that stretch back to 2009, with an added place holder honoring all the students who passed since 1960.
The text on the memorial reads that it is “a place for all students to reflect upon the precious gift of life and to remember their fellow classmates whose lives ended far too soon.”
Jenniffer Stoltzfoos, a mother of a departed Bull, said the university comforted her family in their grief. Her son, a business student named Corban, was halfway through his second semester when he was caught in a fatal motorcycle accident only a short distance from the family’s home.
Stoltzfoos said she felt the memorial service was a touching remembrance of her son and his peers.
“I think that it’s very healthy to be able to come back and honor that person again and speak about them and just deal with those feelings, the sadness and the grief and the hurt,” she said. “I just think it’s a very healthy thing to do, to not repress all those things.”
She also said the memorial itself was helpful to her and other families in the wake of their losses.
“The memorial, I think, outside with the names, is just a beautiful touch for the families, to be able to have that place to come back. I’m assuming there might have been some families that weren’t able to make it today,” she said. “Just to have something there, for me, personally, it’s very honoring that they would want to do something like that and really honor the students.”
Robin Neil Rivell, another parent there for the memorial service, said she had similar feelings.
“I think when we first saw it was a huge thing to take in – 23 names in one year. But I think the wording on it is appropriate, that it gives you a place to go and reflect, and that’s important,” she said. “There’s a place where we can go and remember Emaleigh. We remember her everywhere, but this is a significant part, this was so important to her.”
Rivell said her daughter Emaleigh enjoyed her time at USF before she passed away last February while studying nursing.
“She loved everything about being here,” Rivell said. “She was very determined, strong-willed. Her motto was to never settle.”
Rivell said the memorial offered others the opportunity to remember Emaleigh.
“It’s really important that people have that,” she said. “For her friends as well, it’s kind of like a spot where they meet.”