The School of Nursing is hosting a dedication ceremony of a memorial garden on Oct. 19, 2015 at the Nursing/Chemistry building patio, to honor and remember the five girls that passed away and the two that were injured in a car accident on I-16.
“We are still greatly saddened by this event, however we hope that this will give us strength and a deeper sense of community as we move forward,” Sharon Radzyminski, School of Nursing Chair, said.
The event will consist of a musical performance by the GSU flute choir. In addition, Interim Georgia Southern President, Jean Bartles, Dean Barry Joyner, Radzyminksi, and Melissa Garno, School of Nursing Undergraduate Program Director, are expected to speak at the ceremony.
The families of all the five girls that passed away will be present at the event, as well as some of their friends.
“I do plan on attending. One of the girls was my best friend; I’ve known her since she was born and she was going to be my maid of honor,” Rebecca Rich, senior middle grades education major, said.
The garden has been planted with trees donated in the student’s honor by universities and organizations from all over the country. In addition, the garden will have a plaque that will acknowledge what the garden is in memory of.
“Part of our outpouring of support for our loss has been the donation of several trees in the student’s honor from around the country,” Garno said. “We got condolences from all over the country and Canada when this happened.”
The idea to dedicate the garden in their honor was presented by James Grigg, according to Radzyminksi. The proposal was submitted and approved through the President’s council.
“It’s inspiring to be able to have something that is going to be lasting in honor of the students,” Garno said.
Some students feel that the School of Nursing is honoring the girls in a good way by dedicating the memorial in the girl’s honor.
“I think it is a good idea. We name buildings after important people to our school and the accident will forever be an important part of our schools history,” Rich said. “It will always be a defining moment for our university.”
Although the accident occurred while the girls were attending their clinicals, the School of Nursing has not changed any of their educational experiences and requirements.
“There is really not much we can do. Unfortunately, it’s a hazard of the world we live in,” Gano said. “The learning experiences that require the travel are so important to their profession involvement, that there is really no way to avoid them.”
Soon after the accident occurred last spring, the Georgia Southern Foundation and the School of Nursing established a memorial fund and have received a lot of support from around the country. The School of Nursing is currently waiting for the fund to grow to the point where it can be endowed and be able to offer scholarships to students.
“There is thousands of dollars in that fund. Eventually, we hope that it grows to the point where it can be endowed. It’s close. We have a lot of private donors and some institutional donors that have contributed to that fund,” Garno said. “Once it gets endowed, we can offer scholarships from that foundation scholarship.”
The event is open to the general public and will start at 3 p.m.