On the afternoon of June 5, friends and family of Emily Stillman ’15 gathered to dedicate a lamppost on the K campus in remembrance of the Kalamazoo College sophomore whose life was claimed by bacterial meningitis in February 2014.
The lamppost is situated on the main walkway near Olds-Upton Hall facing the steps leading to Mandelle Hall. A plaque with Emily’s name has been affixed to the post so students and other members of the campus community can easily see it as they pass by.
“As I hurry off to class or rush to meet others, I’ll be reminded,” said Bryan Olert ’15, a friend of Emily, during a dedication ceremony organized by K Chaplain Liz Candido ’00 and Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students Sarah Westfall.
A lamp is perceived as a perfect embodiment of the bright, jovial, and vibrant character of Emily Stillman whose presence was hard to miss, according to some of her friends.
“You just feel her when she walks into a room,” said Nicole Caddow ’15 in an interview with the Kalamazoo Gazette. “You just know Emily Stillman is there.”
During the dedication ceremony, Olert and others took turns reciting pieces depicting the significance of the lamppost and how it conveys the memories they shared with their dear friend.
Jared Grimer ’15 added, “The lamppost is a perfect representation of Emily’s radiant personality. She brought light and warmth into a world that can at times be dark and cold.”
Emily’s parents, Alicia and Michael Stillman, were at the ceremony with her two siblings Zachery and Karly Stillman. Since Emily’s death, the Stillmans have embarked on an awareness campaign by providing information on bacterial meningitis here in the United States and Canada. They founded the Emily Stillman Foundation to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against meningitis and also inform people about the signs and symptoms of the disease.
“We are working to raise awareness of meningococcal disease and organ donation while keeping Emily’s legacy alive. We advocate meningococcal vaccinations,” reads the description on the Foundation’s Facebook page.
After her death, Emily’s parents also donated her organs through the Michigan Gift of Life Center, eventually helping to save at least five lives.
Story by Olivia Nalugya ’16