My friend was senselessly murdered last week. Eve Marie Carson was my student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her death has made national news. But this is not what I will remember of her. When I think of Eve I will remember the way she glowed with joy, her compassion, and how she genuinely cared for others. Whenever I was around her she made me feel special, comfortable, and most of all, loved. Though we never spent more than a few weekends together and a dinner or two with friends, every time I saw Eve on campus she would brighten my day.
I first met Eve while visiting UNC in 2004, in the waiting room during interviews for the scholarship program that brought us both to North Carolina. Eve was so enthusiastic and interested in everyone around her that I was a bit taken aback. We’d just met and already she was including me in her life! Even though I didn’t yet know her, I could already call her a friend.
During the next four years at UNC, Eve was a leader in countless service organizations, was elected president of the student body, worked as a tutor in a public high school, studied abroad in Cuba, and traveled to Ecuador, Ghana, Egypt, and Europe. She did all of this with a great big smile on her face.
As a result of Eve’s unending enthusiasm, she had a tendency to overbook herself, and who knows how much she slept. She was constantly arriving or running off somewhere, but would always find time to sit down and make an ordinary moment special.
In the fall of 2006, I and a group of friends, including Eve, took a trip to the mountains of North Carolina. Eve was actually pretty burnt out during this trip and didn’t have her regular spunk; school work and campus activities had stretched her thin. But one night under the stars and around glowing coals Eve created another special moment. Someone started to hum and another friend started to tap out a rhythm. Eve lit up and all of a sudden everything she said had exclamation points again! “Wow! This is so neat guys! Y’all are so special!” Then she started pointing at everyone, telling us when to come in with a vocal part or a snap of the fingers. Eve showed us all in that moment that she was a natural leader, but more importantly she was comforting, full of love, and just plain fun! Eve’s love for life and those around her were tangible in that magical moment.
Yesterday was the service for Eve, in our basketball stadium. Thousands of people came to celebrate Eve’s life. Those who spoke included Eve’s closest friends, her fellow board trustees, and faculty. One sentiment in particular was shared by everyone who spoke of her, though it was voiced by the UNC system president, Erskine Bowles: “I felt I had a special relationship with Eve, but I am learning that everyone else did as well.” Eve’s death has shown me that a person is capable of reaching out to others and making them feel loved. Eve actively made connections with others and genuinely engaged everyone she met. I hope we can all remember her by following in her footsteps.