Candles for MacQuilliam

To some members of Samy MacQuilliam’s family, the tragic reality has still not fully set in.

Many nights before bed, her mom says that she has to tell Samy’s four-year-old brother that “Sissy will let you sleep now,” because the toddler says his departed sister keeps him awake at night.

At her memorial service in Vaughn Courtyard Thursday, Sept. 27, Samy’s UT friends also had a difficult time believing that she’s gone.

“I know, I can say because I knew Samy, I have been changed for good,” concluded friend Brittney Rector in an emotional speech that drew upon the memories that she accumulated from a year of college with the energetic nursing major.

The memorial was attended by eight of Samy’s relatives, including her mother, who flew in from Maryland for the occasion. UT President Ronald Vaughn was also present, as was Dean of Students Bob Ruday, whose speech declared that “Samy will continue to live and be part of our university family.”

It was an emotional night throughout the memorial, beginning when friends Nicole Bissett and Meagan Pelletier shed tears during the second sentence of the welcoming and ending with a slideshow of Samy’s 19 years of life in the Vaughn Center lobby.

The principal theme that permeated the night was Samy’s love of life and her care for others, especially children.

“Samy was all about caring,” said Suzanne Collins, Samy’s Gateways professor and nursing advisor. “Her sunny disposition would have made her a real natural for nursing.”

Her mother confirmed the impression of Collins, pointing out that it was Samy’s desire to work with children that led her to change her mind from law to nursing during her senior year of high school.

“Kids just gravitated to her,” she reflected. “Samy always had a smile on her face.”

As that contagious smile expressed her love of life, so it symbolized the night of the memorial, reaching out to everyone from the collage that accompanied the podium to the montage of photographs in the slideshow that ended the service.

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