Students gather in memory of Nick Ward

Tayler Critchlow

In the wake of tragedy, Georgia Southern University students gathered to celebrate the life and memory of Nick Ward.

Ward was a GSU senior who was hospitalized for almost a month in serious condition after being hit by a drunken driver Feb. 8. Ward was pronounced dead earlier this week.

“A lesson that we’ve all learned in these past few weeks is that you can’t take life for granted, and we need to live life a little bit more like Nick,” Madison Rozakos, sophomore journalism and writing double-major and friend of Ward, said.

“I think the most important part tonight is the conversations you have with each other,” David McDermott, administration coordinator for the Dean of Students and the head of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Programs, said.

“I think you should remember his life, remember the times you spent together, and I encourage you to have those conversations, I think that’s really what tonight is all about.”

While the community is mourning, administrators and leaders recommended students utilize the incident to educate others about the consequences of drunken driving.

“Community is a word we throw around a lot,” McDermott said. “Let’s use that community.”

“Let’s use each other to prevent drinking and driving, to change the way we talk about drinking and driving, to reach out to each other, to take keys away, to make sure these sort of things don’t happen again,” McDermott said.

Widespread Panic was Ward’s favorite band having been to over 15 concerts, Rozakos said.

“Some of us emailed their (Widespread Panic) publicists about a week after Nick’s accident to see if they could offer their condolences, and they actually ended up contacting us all back and they sent a care package full of posters and memorabilia,” Rozakos.

There will be a drawing next week for a Widespread Panic poster that was signed by all of the band members. The tickets were sold during the memorial for $5, and all proceeds will go to the Ward family to help pay for medical bills, Rozakos said.

Brian Carlson, a temporary professional at the Counseling Center Programming, recommended that students discuss the feelings that the tragedy may have brought on.

“Whether its friends, whether its family, whether it’s us at the counseling center, whoever you need to talk to ?nd those people and really make use of that support system.”

Do not expect every day to get better, there are going to be ups and downs, allow for time to heal and grieve and lean on the people around you, Carlson said.

A viewing will be on Friday afternoon in Ward’s hometown of Fayetteville, Georgia, followed by the funeral on Saturday, Rozakos said.

Ward’s friends shared fond memories of his warm and friendly nature.

Ryan Clark, senior logistics and supply chain management major and Ward’s former roommate, met Ward two years ago when he agreed to be his roommate without having known him beforehand.

“I think that living with him for two years, said a lot about him and it was easy for him to get along with anybody. Back in Fayette County we lived probably ten minutes away from each other and I didn’t know until I came down to Southern, and he was my best friend,” Clark said.

“Nick was the kind of guy that no matter what kind of day it was, if you were having a bad day or if you were having a good day, being around him you always shared some laughs. He seemed to brighten everyone’s day just because of his upbeat, positive attitude,” Andy Patton, senior marketing major and friend of Ward, said.

Rozakos said, “Those who knew Nick and even if they passed by him, knew that he always carried this vibrant smile on his face. He just always had a warm embrace, he was one of those people that you passed by and could automatically tell that kid loved life.”