In the silent cold, about 350 UF students and faculty members shivered with candles cupped in their hands as a rendition of “Amazing Grace” pierced the air.
The crowd gathered at the courtyard of the UF School of Architecture building Thursday afternoon to remember Caroline Alfano and Nicole Scherten, two UF students who died in a March 5 car accident.
The friends were leaving the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival when a car rear-ended them, propelling Alfano’s car into the one in front of it.
Alfano, 20, was a UF architecture senior, and Scherten, 23, was a UF German exchange student.
Alfano’s sorority sisters from Kappa Kappa Gamma, classmates, co-workers from RecSports and friends listened to stories about her warm personality and kindness.
UF President Kent Fuchs said he had learned about the impact Alfano had after her death. He said two bricks on campus will be dedicated to Alfano and Scherten, after one of Alfano’s friends raised $3,874 through a GoFundMe.
“Both Caroline and Nicole have lived life well and true,” Fuchs said.
Chimay Anumba, the dean of the College of Design, Construction and Planning, and two professors who taught Alfano spoke about her academic accomplishments. The gallery in the college features work Alfano made in her studio classes.
During the eight weeks that associate professor Mark McGlothin taught her, he said Alfano was devoted to her studies.
“I found Caroline to be a passionate, sincere and promising student, who was just beginning to forge her own path and find her architectural voice,” he said.
Alfano’s roommate and friend Meghan Mapes, who organized the GoFundMe, told the audience how she last remembered her: without makeup, barefoot and wearing a tie-dye dress.
“That’s how I’m going to remember her,” the 21-year-old UF food science and human nutrition senior said. “Her golden soul and her spirit is still with us.”
Mapes and other sisters of Kappa Kappa Gamma stood and sang “Dream A While,” a song from their sorority.
The service was recorded for her family, who were unable to attend, said Jen Day Shaw, the dean of students.
After the service, architecture students put out about 90 white paper bags with lights in them. Each bag was decorated with quotes and images of flowers and birds.
“Thanks for the infectious smiles, long conversations, and incredible passion that you brought to studio every day,” one student wrote on a bag.
Cassidy Brown said she remembered Alfano for her positive attitude.
“Even when we were in the studio until 2 a.m., she was smiling and positive,” the UF architecture sophomore said. “She was always smiling.”
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About 350 students and faculty from UF gather at the School of Architecture while Joshua Pearsaul sings “Amazing Grace” at the vigil held for Caroline Alfano.