By: Christina Davies
On Monday, February 7th, 2011, a memorial service was held in Marymount Manhattan College’s chapel for Donielle Andrea Demus, a freshman who passed away on January 3, 2011.
Approximately 50-60 members of MMC’s student body and faculty attended the service, organized by the Campus Ministry, and members of Donielle’s family traveled from her hometown of Dallas, Texas to listen and watch as students and professors paid their respects to their classmate and friend. The service began with a slideshow presentation of photos of Donielle which painted a picture of her personality; she was an artist, a basketball player, and a loving daughter. Those speaking at the service provided even more insight into Donielle’s life for those who may not have had the opportunity to meet her during her time at Marymount Manhattan College.
The speakers at the service included MMC president, Judson R. Shaver, Director of Campus Ministry. Rebecca Buchanan, Student Government Association president, Evan Johnson, Donielle’s Pure Leader, Carly Schneider, Professor Craig Banholzer, Donielle’s former art professor, Rabbi Philip Hiat, and Donielle’s mother, Traci Gamble.
President Shaver was the first to speak, and described the devastation he felt upon hearing the news of Donielle’s death. He addressed the importance of our community to touch one another’s lives and provide support for our community. Following President Shaver was Evan Johnson, who similarly emphasized the importance of our community to reach out to one another, and to “notice and be there for every person”.
Carly Schneider recalled the times she spent with Donielle in her First Year Mentoring class. She described Donielle as having “a quick wit, a strong demeanor, and the ability to make people laugh”. Professor Craig Banholzer spoke of Donielle as a quiet but hard-working student, who had tremendous potential. He showed the room Donielle’s portfolio for his class, which included exceptionally detailed and beautiful “self-portrait” drawings, in which Donielle portrayed herself as a musician.
Traci Gamble, Donielle’s mother, brought those in attendance through Donielle’s life, and described her ambitions to live in New York City to pursue her dreams as an artist. Traci described the day her family drove Donielle to New York to move into the dorms at MMC, and how she could immediately tell Donielle felt as though she belonged. Traci’s words provided laughter and tears, but mostly hope for those struggling with Donielle’s passing. President Shaver mentioned the conversation he had with Traci after hearing about Donielle’s death, and it was Traci who “cheered him up”, and her encouraging spirit became evident as she spoke to those in attendance at the chapel.
The memorial service brought great insight into the life of Donielle Demus. Traci Gamble provided much needed hope and comfort to her classmates, friends, and professors. Donielle’s memorial service was a great reminder of the preciousness of life, and her memory will live on throughout the Marymount Manhattan College community.