WILLIAMSBURG — William & Mary students, faculty, and staff came together in the Wren Courtyard on Wednesday for a brief Community Gathering — a candlelight vigil of reflection and support in the wake of several tragic losses in recent weeks.
In an event that included brief remarks from Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler and President Katherine A. Rowe, as well as poetry, prayer and a soaring, acapella rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Lecturer in Musical Theatre and Musical Theatre Director Phaedra McNorton, participants stood together on the chilly December evening in remembrance.
“Tonight, as we share the light of our many candles, we illuminate this beautiful courtyard,” Ambler said. “The warmth of that shared light also reminds us powerfully that we are not alone in joy or in sorrow. community matters. This community matters. Your being here tonight, matters.”
Last weekend, the William & Mary community was notified of the death of junior Troy A. Cullen, whose body was found by police in the overnight hours in the woods on campus. And in early November, freshman Alexander Gil died after police were called to a medical emergency at the Botetourt Complex.
Rowe also mourned the losses of Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler, and D’Sean Perry, the victims of last month’s University of Virginia shooting.
“We hold in our hearts Alex Gil and Troy Cullen, friends and colleagues at UVA, and all of our loved ones lost this year,” Rowe said. “We’re here for those who have felt that loss most intensely. That they also can feel us near them. With them. With you.”
Rowe also recognized caregivers, including the Dean of Students Office, health and wellness care support services and the William & Mary Police Department, not only for their dedication, but for the toll tramatic events take on them.
“I want to take just a moment to remind everyone that the caregivers everywhere also need care,” she said.
The gathering concluded with the ringing of the Wren Bell.