UCF declared 13 students 'Eternal Knights' today, at the 2016 Eternal Knights Memorial Service in the Pegasus Ballroom. The friends, family and classmates of each fallen student joined notable leaders from the UCF community to remember and honor their lives.
The service opened with a moment of silence both in the ballroom and in classrooms around the university. Two seconds for each of the students who lost their lives during their time at the university: Thomas Anderson, Maxine Bartkovich, Samantha Bennett, Dylan Besser, Keri DeMott, Robert Freeman, Michael Namey, Camden Nuckols, Alexander Osorio, David Persaud, Luke Zachary Roy, Rafael Suarez and Michael Zheng.
"We are here to unite as a community, and remember that the university was a better place for the time each of them shared with us," said Dr. Maribeth Ehasz, vice president for Student Development and Enrollment Services.
In a eulogy by Dr. Carolyn Hopp of UCF's College of Education, each student was identified and honored with a yellow flower and was then bestowed the Eternal Knight title.
"Together, as we remember the students we have lost this year, we uphold and embrace the third tenant of our creed: community," said Student Government Association President Cait Zona. "Our campus is more than a school or a collection of buildings. UCF is a community and a family. We experience our triumphs, achievements, pain and sadness together. When we lose a fellow Knight, we all experience the loss and mourn together, just as a community does."
In addition to a few words from President John Hitt, poems and prayers were read to provide comfort to the mourning friends and families.
Once a Knight, always a Knight.
Rosie Reitze is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @rosie_ucf or email her at RosieR@centralfloridafuture.com.