Abigail Green / The Daily Gamecock

USC community remembers those who have passed at Rutledge Chapel

The USC community gathered at Rutledge Chapel for a service of remembrance for those who have passed this past academic year. 

Lizzie Keegan, a chaplain for USC who works for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a campus ministry, gave the service's opening prayer, and Rev. John Cook and Rev. Tom Wall gave the service's readings. Following tradition, incoming student body president Luke Rankin read the names of the students who have passed. Anna Cofie, president-elect of the graduate student body, read the names of the faculty and staff who have passed.

The students honored were Jamie Burger, Samantha Josephson, Kelsey McGill, Rachel Mullen, Katherine Schlegel, Nicholas Veronesi and John Williams. The faculty and staff honored were Roberta Copp, Felecia Lee, Diana Pitts, Dorothy Prioleau, Constance Shepard and Robert Thunell. 

"It is with fond memories and heavy hearts that we gather to honor their lives," Wall said. 

In his remarks during the service, President Harris Pastides recalled a statement by poet Thomas Campbell describing how those who have passed continue to live in the hearts of their loved ones. 

"I know memories can sometimes also bring tears and sadness, but I hope they can also bring a calming joy in those who remember," Pastides said.

Various friends and family of those who passed spoke of their fondest memories which they hope will continue to live on.

Among those who attended the service included the sisters of Rachel Mullen — Kori Castellano, a graduate of USC's nursing school, and Lea Mullen, a first-year science student at Midlands Technical College. When describing their favorite memory of their sister, both spoke of her laugh.

"Forever be grateful for your loved one and never take anyone for granted and to just cherish the time you have with other people," Mullen said. 

Also in attendance was Kathy Burger, the mother of Jamie Burger, who said she hopes the community will remember how much her daughter loved the Gamecocks and her time here at USC. She hopes the service of remembrance provides others hope. 

Keegan additionally spoke of her personal connection with Jamie Burger, who was a part of her campus ministry. 

"She was one of the silliest and goofiest people I have ever met and was really fun and loved USC a lot," Keegan said.

Lisa Jerald, the ombudsman for undergraduate USC students, attended the service because she worked with various students and staff members who passed. She described her favorite aspect of a coworker she worked with closely, Dorothy Prioleau, who worked in the Students Disabilities Resource Center. 

"She always had a smile — you could hear it though the phone when she answered it," Jerald said. "Life is short and life is precious. Live it to the fullest and don't let a day go by that you don't tell them something you want them to know." 

Both Rankin and Pastides discussed the importance of the USC community remembering those who have passed. 

"It is so important to remember the lives that they lived and to remember them for all the good they brought to this world and to know that they will live on," Rankin said.

Rankin also spoke of the beauty of seeing the USC community come together in remembrance in the face of adversity.

"No matter what happens to us as a university or to us as an individual, we're here for each other and we support each other," Rankin said. "Being able to respect and remember and be there for those that have passed on is a beautiful thing and something I'm proud that as a community we do." 

Pastides said that dignified ceremonies like this service help to ensure their lives of those who passed are never forgotten.

"Everybody here makes an indelible mark on the university, and I think makes it better," Pastides said. "The University of South Carolina is only as good as all of the people who have gone to school here or worked here and that includes the ones that we celebrated today."

In addition to remembering the lives lost from USC's community, Keegan also spoke of another message which she hopes the service of remembrance leaves on people. 

"The reality that a lot of students are struggling," Keegan said. "A few of the deaths that we're honoring today have been people taking their own lives and wanting campus to be aware of students who are struggling with mental health issues." 

In his remarks, Pastides spoke of students remembering the lives of those lost by taking action in their own lives and taking advantage of the mental health services which the university is continuing to expand.

The service concluded with all of those in attendance singing the USC Alma Mater in honor of those who passed. 

"Forever to Thee, Forever to Them," Pastides said. 

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