We gather today to honor the lives of five students, mark the beginning of a new chapter and demonstrate the resilience and character of our university. Listen and remember as I say the names of our cherished “five” one more time:
Some of us knew them well; others came to understand their charm, their hopes and dreams, through conversations with parents, relatives, professors and friends.
Gayle Dubowski, an anthropology student from Carol Stream, was very passionate about her faith, asked intelligent questions, made smart observations and loved to sing and read.
Catalina Garcia, an elementary education student from Cicero, always had a smile on her face. Creative, jovial, she was an eternal optimist.
Julianna Gehant from Mendota loved children, country music and ballroom dancing. She was a veteran and served her country for 12 years.
Ryanne Mace from Carpentersville was an avid reader and intellectually engaging, she loved learning, valued her many friends and truly enjoyed her academic experience at NIU.
Daniel Parmenter from Westchester was curious and loved to learn new and different things. You could always count on him; he was honest with a strong work ethic.
We all all of us diminished by their loss. This place of peace and reflection keeps them in our hearts, and we gather here to day to remember them.
Our cherished “five” are with us every day, inspiring and encouraging us to move forward, to be better, and to appreciate our precious university and caring community.
Our cherished “five” motivate every day the Forward, Together Forward Scholarship students as they pursue their studies. And our prescious “five” will motivate the many more who will receive that honor in the years and decades to come.
Our cherished “five” are here every day as thousands of Huskies learn in Cole Hall.
Cole Hall, quiet for the past four years, awoke this spring to the sounds of student chatting, backpacks hitting the floor, the furious click of keys on laptops and the excitement and challenge of a professor’s lecture. A new chapter in Cole Hall’s history begins, and is perhaps the best tribute to our cherished “five” who were so engaged in the thrill of learning.
So today, dear friends, Northern Illinois University, touched by tragedy, unified in our sorrow and loss, is nonetheless strong in our commitment to continue forward, together forward in memory of our cherished “five” as a beacon of opportunity for generations of students to come.
God bless all of you, and God bless NIU. Thank you.