Lauren McCluskey Remembered As Determined, Kind In Vigil At University Of Utah
Hundreds of students, faculty and staff gathered Wednesday at the University of Utah in honor of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey, who was shot and killed on campus Monday night.
Student-athletes crowded near the steps of the Park Building where McCluskey’s vigil was held. They wore bright red T-shirts with a message that read, “Leave a legacy.”
Dean of Students Lori McDonald said this week has been especially painful because this time last year another student was shot and killed on campus during an attempted carjacking, but for the vigil, she hoped to simply create a safe space to mourn and allow the healing process to begin.
“Tonight is a night to think about Lauren and just come together and feel in various ways and honor her,” McDonald said.
Some students like Stephanie Martinez and Henry Ponce-Orellana, both sophomores, expressed frustrations after the vigil about two shootings occurring on campus within a year of each other.
They were on campus when both shootings took place and said no student should have to tell their parents they are trapped on campus because a shooter is near.
The vigil was the first time many of the students and faculty who knew Lauren McCluskey best spoke publicly since her death.
Kyle Kepler, track and field head coach, said his team and all the student-athletes are feeling a deep and immense pain.
He described McCluskey as a caring person, an incredible teammate and an excellent student.
“She was just genuine and sweet and she had a relentless determination at practice that showed up every day,” Kepler said.
Teammates Eliza Hansen, Mesa Weidle and Raynee Helm-Wheelock also shared a few words about McCluskey.
They described her as a driven athlete who gave “110 percent in everything she did,” as they tried to hold back tears.
“We were beyond blessed to have her as our teammate and as our sister,” Helm-Wheellock said.
Kepler told the crowd to lean on each other, help each other day by day, like they do in track, “one foot after the other.”
Other speakers at the vigil included University of Utah President Ruth Watkins, student body President Connor Morgan and Troy Champ, the pastor of Salt Lake City’s Capital Church, which McCluskey attended.