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Released December 3, 2003

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - Students, faculty and staff of The University of Southern Mississippi turned out Wednesday evening to pay tribute to those students who died during the fall 2003 semester.

Students put aside thoughts of next week's final exams to remember the deceased during the memorial, the first of its kind at Southern Miss to honor all students who had passed away during the course of a semester.

Southern Miss student Neal Kirby of Mandeville, student development coordinator for the SGA, helped coordinate the event with the Southern Miss Dean of Students Office. "I've been to other memorials for individual students, and we felt like it would be good to have a single memorial event to honor all students who had passed away during the semester," Kirby said.

Southern Miss students memorialized Wednesday included Shekita Nicole Robinson of Mound Bayou; Clifton Dale Fairley of McLain; Clifford Matthew Cooley of Lucedale; Catherine Lindsey Crowe of Petal; Garrett Hebert of Destrehan, La.; Jason Dunaway of Columbia; and Kristin Smith of Hattiesburg.

"I think it's a noteworthy and important gesture on behalf of the university to recognize these students who are no longer with us," said Dr. Eddie Holloway, Southern Miss dean of students. During the ceremony, Holloway memorialized the deceased students as "Golden Eagles" who would live on forever in the memory of the university family..

Along with Assistant Dean of Students Mike Mitchell, Dr. Holloway and Loftus helped to present plaques honoring the deceased students to family members in attendance at the memorial.

Garrett Hebert's father, Gary Hebert, expressed his family's appreciation for the ceremony. "It takes a special group of people to take a moment to recognize the reality that this family (the Heberts) is going through," Gary Hebert said. Garrett Hebert would have graduated this fall. His wife Nathoshia attended the memorial.

"It's a good thing for us to remember these students in this way," said Southern Miss SGA President Jared Loftus of Sumrall. "I know what it's like to have a family member pass away, and it's always good to have friends and family around for support."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM