Undeterred by the evening’s rainy forecast, students gathered Thursday night on the steps of Old Main to remember the 27 Penn State students who have died within the past year.
About 100 students attended the third annual candlelit vigil organized by the University Park Undergraduate Association. They listened to two trumpeters play “Amazing Grace,” Penn State a capella ensemble The Pennharmonics sing “Don’t Worry About Me” and UPUA members address the crowd.
Incoming UPUA President Katie Jordan began her speech by saying that every Penn State student has made an impact on the university community.
“Each person on this campus is a beautiful parcel in the Penn State whole,” Jordan said. “Each life on this campus is a valued one. Each person has a story, and it’s an important one. Regardless of the time you’ve spent here or the work that you’ve done, it doesn’t matter, because everyone adds to the overall good of Penn State — the place that we have learned to love.”
Jordan said that because of each student’s contribution to the makeup of Penn State, “we become attached to them, whether we know them personally or not,” and losing a fellow student is a deep loss.
After addressing her fellow students, Jordan invited anyone with stories to tell or thoughts to share about the deceased students to come forward.
No one approached the microphone, as the students instead stood quietly together. All was silent except for a few sniffles heard throughout the crowd and the sound of raindrops beginning to hit the sidewalk.
Jordan approached the microphone again and read each of the 27 names. For each student she named, another student lit a candle and took a spot on the steps of Old Main. After the wall of 27 students, illuminated by flickering candlelight, was complete, they joined the rest of the crowd and lit others’ candles with their flames.
After one final moment of silence, The Pennharmonics sang “Tall Heights.” Students shared their umbrellas as the rain grew heavier.
Students wrapped their arms around one another’s shoulders to sing the Alma Mater.
The 27 students remembered were Starrett Metzler, Karina Nunez-Fabian, Shannon Mathers, Rahman Hassan, Madison Hill, Jedidiah Seckinger, Christina Anthony, Scott Loper, Matthew Kayser, George Samah, Garren Stamp, Byron Markle, Nicolai Tereschak, Hayley McMillen, Matthew Wolfgang, Stephanie Inman, Benjamin Harner, Robert Lane, Sarah Barbale, Andrew Edwards, Jasper Hicks, Lucas Shook, Luke Still, Samuel Kepler, Stephanie Matteo, Timothy Piazza and Cody Mullen.
Sarah Mearhoff is a Penn State journalism student.