Northern Illinois University paused Friday to remember five students who were killed in a classroom six years ago.
The campus tower bell rang five times: once for each student who died in Cole Hall Feb. 14, 2008.
They were shot to death by a former NIU student who turned the gun on himself.
About 100 people gathered at NIU’s stone and steel memorial outside the repurposed Cole Hall. They stood quietly and listened to the bell, which began to toll at 3:06 p.m., the time the shootings started.
And that was it. Forty seconds of absolute stillness, except for the bells, and then the crowd slowly moved on.
This is the first memorial observance held under NIU’s new president Doug Baker. Earlier this week, he met with the families of the students who were killed.
Every year since the shootings, five students have received scholarships honoring the five whose lives were cut short – Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace, and Daniel Parmenter. Christian Villalobos of Chicago is one of this year’s scholarship recipients. The junior pursuing her degree in marketing says it means a lot to her to represent the five students. She says her education was almost cut short by a lack of funding.
For me to actually have the opportunity to get the scholarship and not only represent the souls, but also have the opportunity to come back for my last year to graduate, it means the world. Because it’s my life-long dream to actually graduate from a university, especially from one of the best colleges of business in the nation.
Villalobos says she plans to become an international marketing manager and can’t wait to return to NIU to establish her own scholarship for low-income students.
The other scholarship recipients this year are:
- Kaitlyn King of Sycamore, a senior majoring in speech-language pathology and audiology
- Juan Molina Hernandez of Aurora, a senior majoring in studio art-design
- Lauren Noonan of Naperville, a junior majoring in speech-language pathology and audiology
- Joseph Palmer of Rolling Meadows, a junior majoring in international politics