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Columbia Missourian

MU remembers nine students who died in the past year

By Missourian staff
April 4, 2013 | 7:31 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — MU Remembers, the university’s annual memorial service for students who have died in the last 12 months, takes place at 2 p.m. Friday in Memorial Union.

MU Remembers

Join the MU community to commemorate and honor those students who have died in the past calendar year. The event will take place at 2 p.m. Friday in Stotler Lounge, Memorial Union North, Room 103.



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This year, the service remembers nine undergraduate and graduate students in a ceremony that became a tradition in 2002.

Some of these students had just begun their college careers, while others were completing doctoral degrees. The youngest was 18; the oldest was 25. They were undergraduate majors in science, art, business and political science; and they were graduate students in psychology, physical therapy and health administration.

Flags will be lowered to half-staff in their memory Friday, the tower at Memorial Union will be darkened and the bells at Reynolds Alumni Center will play "Old Missouri." A book will be dedicated to each at Ellis Library, bearing individual book plates with their names.

Here is a look at those who will be remembered.

ADITI AVHAD

Aditi Avhad had a megawatt smile.

Avhad, who would have completed her master’s degree in health management this year, died Aug. 2, 2012, in a Megabus accident near Litchfeld, Ill.

She moved from Mumbai to Columbia without a scholarship, but she was determined to land one. She maintained a 4.0 grade point average and was awarded a scholarship through the MU School of Medicine.

“She was very determined and always wanted to know if there was anything else she could do,” said Dr. Suzanne Boren, a faculty mentor in the health management department.

Last summer, Avhad worked in the Center for Health Care Quality on educational programs to advance patient care safety and value. Colleagues say she was passionate about her work.

“You knew she would do well with any project she had,” said Douglas Wakefield, the center’s director. “She was a lovely person and very hardworking and professional.”

Nikhil Tindal, president of the Cultural Association of India, organized a memorial last August for friends and colleagues to celebrate her life. Many gave speeches, talking about her intelligence, work ethic and ability to light up everything around her. 

"Aditi was a girl who was always smiling and brought so much joy to us all," Tindal told a Missourian reporter at the time.

Abbie Wenthe

CAROLYN DOLAN

Carolyn Dolan was a shoe connoisseur, a whiz in the classroom, an infectious comedian and a motivated athlete.

"Most of all she was compassionate," said her mother, Vicki Dolan. "She had a huge heart. If someone ever needed anything, she got it for them."

Carolyn Dolan was freshman MU political science major when she died on April 29, 2012, in Kirkwood. She was 19.

Her older sister, Erin, remembers how she  spent her early years watching "Barney," lying on her Spongebob comforter, building couch-cushion forts and eating microwaveable pasta.

"She loved nothing more than microwavable chicken fettuccine Alfredo," her sister said. "She'd have it all over her face. I'd put it on my face, too, so we would match."

She attended an all-girls Catholic high school, Cor Jesu Academy in St. Louis.

Friend Ellen Lampe was a fellow lacrosse player who said Carolyn was the motivational leader of the team.

"All of the younger girls looked up to her," Lampe said. "During one team run she started singing 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough,' and everyone joined in. She was such a lighthearted spirit."

Dolan also participated in mock trials, playing the witness her senior year.

"Her dream was to be an attorney," her mother said.

Dan Burley

EMILY FERGUSON

Emily Ferguson was the queen of "selfies" — self-portraits taken with a phone at arm's length.

According to Megan Sheahan, she was always sending goofy pictures and videos to her friends to brighten their days.

“I was once having the worst day, and a video she sent me completely turned my day around,” said Sheahan, a close friend. “She was such a caring and loving person.”

Ferguson died Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, in an accident on I-70 as she headed home to St. Louis. She was 19 and a sophomore business major at MU.

The night they met, the two friends hid in a port-a-potty while it was shaken by a big group of people. That was a good example of Emily's goofy personality, Sheahan said.

Ferguson's friends describe her as selfless, always willing to listen to problems before mentioning her own.

“I think about her every single day,” Sheahan said. “You just wanted to be around her; she was so happy.”

Julie Goodmann coached Ferguson for four years in volleyball at Kirkwood High School. When she looks at pictures from Ferguson's time on the volleyball team, she said it's easy to see how her positive energy lifted up her teammates.

"In all the pictures, she's the player who's jumping the highest, showing the most emotion on her face; she had this contagious excitement on the court," Goodmann said.

Emily Jaeger, who played on the volleyball team, said that even though the two played the same position, Ferguson's good nature meant there was never any animosity between them.

"Everyone just fell in love with her," Jaeger said.

Abbie Wenthe and Liz Scheltens

MICHAEL HENEY

Michael Heney was able to maintain friendships that started in middle school in St. Louis and continued in college.

“He was just a caring guy who loved to have fun and always gave people a chance. He was open to do anything. He didn’t judge. He was just an easy-going guy,” tennis teammate Andrew Martin said.

Heney died on New Year's Eve at the age of 20 after collapsing on a porch while visiting friends in Edwardsville, Ill.

Martin remembers meeting Heney on the school bus in sixth grade after he moved to St. Louis. They went to one another’s birthday parties and became close friends. Their friendship continued at MU.

“A bunch of us at tennis practice would joke around and have fun talking about random stuff,” Martin said. “He actually helped me find a girl, and we ended up dating for two years.”

His friend Ian Bernstein agreed. “He was one of the most fun-loving guys I’ve ever met, always smiling or happy and joking around. He was that kind of person that puts you in a good mood if you have a bad day,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein's favorite memory of Heney happened at a hockey game in high school. Heney told his friend to jump on his shoulders as a stunt.

“It was super funny because we’re both super skinny, so it was just ridiculous having me sitting on his shoulders,” Bernstein said.

"I thought we were going to fall down, but that’s the kind of guy he was, just fun."

Caitlin Kerfin

EMILY JACKSON

The MU flag flew at half-staff on March 23 in honor of senior art student Emily Jackson, 23, who died in her off-campus home on March 22, 2013.

Jackson graduated from Lebanon High School in 2008 and planned to graduate in May with a bachelor of fine arts degree.

"Everyone in the department feels that she was a wonderful student," said Jo Stealey, an MU art professor who teaches fiber art classes. "She took her studies very seriously, but she also was a wonderful friend to everyone."

Visiting assistant professor Claire Stigliani had Jackson as a student in her senior seminar and watercolor classes.

She said Jackson had compassion toward everyone she met, a constant smile and a sense of humor.

"You couldn't find one person who knew her who would say anything bad about her," Stigliani said.

Allison Hinga

KELLY NEEDHAM

Timothy “Kelly” K. Needham could make anything fun, power washing included.

He worked on the event staff at the MU Student Recreation Complex as a RecSports official and as a Brewer Station attendant. Kate Bauche, event management coordinator, recalls how Needham reacted when she handed him power-washing duty.

“He was all ‘Oh, I’m going to own up on this power washer,’” she said. “We actually have one photo of him that’s just hilarious. It’s him shooting a power washer straight up into the air like a superhero or something. He was there to work hard, but he also had fun.”

Needham, who would have been a senior this year, died Aug. 18, 2012, in Wausau, Wis., less than a week after a two-vehicle collision near Minocqua, Wis., on Aug. 13. He was 21.

Needham grew up in Peoria, Ill., and graduated from Peoria Notre Dame High School in 2009. In high school, he was involved in cross-country, track and basketball, and he was crowned prom king.

“He was the life of the party,” said his close friend and fellow MU student Hannah Cusack, who’d been Kelly’s classmate since kindergarten. “It sounds so cliché, but he really just got along with everyone.”

At MU, Needham was finance major in the Trulaske College of Business. He was highly motivated in school and probably would have entered graduate school next year, Cusack said.

He was also a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and very active in the chapter, Cusack said.

After his death, his fraternity brothers and fellow Team Mizzou members organized a barbecue to honor him and support the Needham family.

“Two organizations that really cared about him came together,” Bauche said.

Claire Landsbaum

COLE PATRICK

Cole Patrick wrote backwards. 

"He would start each letter where most people would end it," said Isaac Justin, a close friend of Cole's throughout high school, in an email. "We would always joke around, saying that it meant he was either mentally insane or pure genius."

Not pure genius but close. Once, Patrick forgot about a big dual-credit anatomy and physiology test, Justin said. He studied for about an hour beforehand and aced the test anyway. 

Mary Burgess, the principal of Cathedral School of St. Joseph,remembers Patrick for his "joy and zest for life."

She had known him since he was a baby, watched him grow in Cathedral’s Early Childhood Center, followed his mischievous antics through grade school and stayed in contact through his time at Bishop LeBlond High School, also in St. Joseph.

“He was family,” she said.

Patrick died in St. Joseph on Dec. 28, 2012. He was a passenger in a car that  hit a tree off U.S. 169 and Cook Road, according to the St. Joseph News-Press. He was 18.

He had been at MU for exactly one semester and was pursuing a bachelor of science degree in preparation for medical school. He had recently been initiated into Delta Upsilon fraternity.

He was always smiling or laughing about something, said his friend, Isaac Justin, and he was well-liked by all who knew him. "He would go out of his way to help anyone," Justin said.

Last month Cathedral School installed a memorial to Patrick, a plaque and a stained-glass raven crafted by the school’s art teacher. The raven is the school’s mascot.

“We wanted to have something that would reflect the light and joy that he brought,” Burgess said.

Claire Landsbaum

CHRISTINE RICAÑA

Christine Ricaña had friends in all walks of life, from pageant queens to hipsters.

“She was one of those people who never judged anybody,” said her brother, Clifton Ricaña Jr. “If you were her friend she really took the time to sit down and get to know you.”

Christine Ricaña, who was working toward her doctorate in physical therapy at MU, died Oct. 13, 2012, at the age of 22.

Originally from Chicago, Christine moved to Jefferson City with her family in 1994. She attended Jefferson City High School and graduated in 2008.

She earned her bachelor's degree at MU and was admitted early into the School of Health Professions’ physical therapy doctoral program,

“She really enjoyed the aspect not only of helping people but also knowing how the body worked,” her brother said.

Ricaña combined her love for children with her passion for physical therapy, and she enjoyed working in the children’s department of physical therapy. She volunteered at the Special Learning Center in Jefferson City, where she used her knowledge to help children with special needs.

“She was very fun-loving, and always had a big, bright smile on her face,” her brother said. “We would always make fun of her because she was 5-1, but a little ball of energy.”

Her father, Clifton Ricaña Sr., said he takes her loss one day at a time.

“I know that she’s doing well,” he said. “She was doing well here, but she’s doing even better where she is.”

Claire Landsbaum

STEPHANIE SCHRODER

Stephanie Schroder loved horses so much, she brought hers to college.

Eddie, a dark thoroughbred with a white splotch on his forehead, was a retired racehorse. Stephanie worked with him and trained him while she was in high school.

“When she was going off to college, the owner of the riding center let Stephanie take him,” said Phyllis Schroder, Stephanie’s mother. “He said they belonged together.”

Her daughter died suddenly in a hospital in Michigan on Nov. 24, 2012. She was 23.

Stephanie Schroder graduated from Okemos High School in Okemos, Mich., and completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Michigan. The following August she entered the School of Psychological Sciences at MU, gaining acceptance into the doctoral program at the age of 21.

“Even back in high school she had a Ph.D. in the back of her mind,” her mother said. “She’d always been interested in research.”

In the psychology department, Stephanie made an impression on professors and classmates alike. 

"What struck me about her was her incredible intelligence," said Rachel Winograd, a fellow doctoral student and one of Stephanie's lab mates. "She was the type of person who would figure things out herself at all costs, and when she did ask a question it was something we all had to stop and think about." 

Kenneth Sher, also with the psychology department, said he would hand Stephanie a corrected paper, and she would point out places where his corrections were misguided. 

"The force of her intellect was truly impressive," he said. "We have a lot of really good students come through our program over the years. I'd put her up against anybody."

Aside from academics, Stephanie hiked, took kickboxing classes and attended concerts and music festivals with her boyfriend, her mother said.

“She was a very free spirit, down to earth and full of love,” close friend and fellow MU student April Swagman said in an email. “She lived for music, dancing and concerts.”

Schroder was “passionate about fighting injustices and making the world a better place,” Swagman said. “She was silly, fun, and always up for something new. Columbia isn’t the same without her.”

Claire Landsbaum