Colorado State University mourns Savannah McNealy at vigil

Seth Bodine

Editor’s Note: Savannah McNealy worked for Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation. We will remember her as a bright, energetic and kind young woman.  The Collegian is compiling a company obituary that will be released later this week. 

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Rams held each other close during a vigil for Colorado State University student Savannah McNealy, who was killed in a shooting Thursday morning.

The vigil was near Ram Walk on Meridian Drive between Hughes Way and Pitkin Street. McNealy helped come up with the idea and design for the Ram Walk, a tradition in which the CSU football team walks in a path to the stadium. A bright orange stripe on the pavement guides football players, cheerleaders and the marching band to the stadium on gamedays. The project was completed over the summer. On Friday, flowers were laid on the orange pavement in memory of McNealy. 

Family members, friends, colleagues and coworkers attended the event to honor her memory. Some placed flowers on a table and wrote thoughts and memories of McNealy next to a series of photos of her. CSU president Tony Frank said he was not there to give words to make sense of the death, but to encourage the crowd to take care of each other and remember McNealy.  

“That pain that you all feel, that emptiness that seems without limit will recede. What won’t recede is your memory of Savannah,” Frank said. “It will remain bright and warm within each of you, and you will never forget her.”  

Frank emphasized the potential of everyone in attendance to create positive change. 

“In each and every one of you, is an amazing ability to mold good from evil and draw light out of darkness. To plant healing and growth in a field of tragedy,” Frank said. 

Christopher Watkins Lamb, a spiritual care resident for the CSU Health Network, helped lead the vigil. 

“If we can allow all of the wild feelings not to harden our hearts, but to open us to this precious CSU community, we can continue to care for one another,” Watkins Lamb said. “This is a moment, where yet again, Rams are called to take care of Rams.” 

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Jackson Aldern, a senior art major, knew McNealy since he was a freshman, when they lived in the same residence hall. He described her as talkative and kind. 

“She cared about her friends more than anything,” Aldern said. 

Tom Milligan, vice president of external relations at CSU, had McNealy in one of his classes and said she was very talented. 

“She took simple nothing ideas and made them really interesting,” Milligan said.  “She was remarkable.” 

Lauren Kroll, a graphic designer at CSU who hired McNealy as an intern, worked with McNealy on the design of RamWalk. 

“I loved working with her because she didn’t really have boundaries,” Kroll said. “She’d always kind of make whatever happen, hence why the street’s orange.” 

Kroll said McNealy really grew in the past year and found her way as a designer. In the past year, she said she thought of McNealy more as a designer than a student intern.  

“Something sparked, I think it was just the excitement of the senior year,” Kroll said. “She was really looking ahead to the future, and that’s what really kills me the most.” 

Collegian reporter Seth Bodine can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @sbodine120.