FAMU holds first Vigil of the New Year

Photo credit: Jaclyn Harold 

Students and faculty gathered Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil to commemorate the lives of two fallen Rattlers.

Alfred Motlow III, 19, and Aniya Brown, 20, both sophomores a part of the college of engineering – died in a fatal car crash while traveling back from the holiday break.

“The vigil served as an opportunity for the community at large to unite and acknowledge not only their loved ones, but also the issue that’s adversely impacting the community,” stated Dr. Jamie Davis, director of student support services.

Florida A&M University has been carrying on the candlelight vigil tradition for several years and has held memorials in the past for Quinton Langford who died in 2016, Antonio Davon Brown who died in the Orlando nightclub shooting, and more recently Emojah Mullings who also passed in a car crash over Thanksgiving break in 2017.

“I received a call at about seven in the morning; I broke down immediately. I tried calling his phone but it went straight to voicemail,” said senior environmental studies major Jamal Noble. Noble was a friend and Fraternity brother of Motlow’s.

“I’ll miss his energy and friendship. He was an amazingly humble person”, Noble recollected along with several other Omega Psi Phi Fraternity members that sat front in center at the memorial.

According to Linda Hart-Streeter, a marriage and family counselor from Orlando, Fla., most students with reactions similar to Noble’s are experiencing the first step to grieving — which, according to studies from Elisabeth Kubler Ross, a Swiss-American Psychiatrist, is shock/denial.

“When we lose someone, most people go through that first stage of grief, which is this inability to accept the reality of loss,” said Streeter.

Photo credit: Joanne Cherisma 

Along with this first step follows anger, depression, and sometimes even guilt of not being able to change what has happened. But by the university holding these vigils to allow students the chance to comfort each other and confront those feelings, this event displays one of the healthy ways of coping with a sudden trauma in life.

“Everyone deals with grief differently. Some bad examples of that would be drinking, or not giving yourself the time to grieve at all, so I believe the vigils and maybe even a grief group is beneficial to dealing with those emotions,” said Streeter.

If you’re having difficulty accepting reality and moving forward, take action and get help. Most importantly practice safe ways of coping. Talk to someone or be the person that someone grieving can come talk to.

“Know your limitations,” said Streeter, “and talk about where you are in your process of grief.”

For more information on positive ways to cope, visit Sunshine Manor at 636 Gamble Street and/or set an appointment for counseling by contacting them at 850-599-3145.