Friends, loved ones, mourn loss of student

From left to right, Hayley Hoback, Izzy Rager, Morgan Goetz and Rachel Shipp lean on one another at a vigil to memorialize their Alpha Gamma Delta sister, Stephanie Campbell, on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at the AGD sorority house. Campbell passed away Sunday, Sept. 25 as a result of a single-car accident on the Western Kentucky Parkway. “She has tattooed on her foot ‘You can breathe,’” remembered Hayley Hoback at the vigil. “And that’s what I can say to her. ‘You can breathe now.’ She’s in a better place now.” Gabriel Scarlett/HERALD

Nicole Ares

Glowing Rose

When friends, loved ones and Alpha Gamma Delta sisters spoke about the life of Stephanie Campbell during her vigil on Sept. 28, they described her as someone who “lived with purpose.”

Many said she was “brave,” “eloquent” and “true to herself 100 percent of the time, inspiring others to do the same.”

To honor the life of Campbell and to express its grievances, the Theta Iota chapter of AGD hosted a vigil open to the public.

During the vigil, hundreds of people gathered on the AGD house lawn to mourn the loss and say their goodbyes. Many were dressed in pink, Campbell’s favorite color.

“Her favorite color is pink, she loved it,” Izzy Rager, Hendersonville, Tennessee sophomore and roommate of Campbell, said. “Everything she owned was pink, and she would’ve loved all this pink.”

The AGD set up a memorial of photographs in front of the house, gave crowd members a lit candle to hold and filled the sky with pink balloons.

Campbell, a 21-year-old Louisville senior, was killed in a car accident on Sept. 25 while driving on the Western Kentucky Parkway.

Her cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma to the body, deputy Grayson County Coroner Howard Tomes, said.

Campbell was driving westbound on the parkway in a 2001 Nissan Xterra when she started to drift into the median, over-corrected and lost control of the vehicle, according to the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jarrod Mudd.

It is not confirmed what caused Campbell’s vehicle to drift into the median.

During the ceremony, friends and loved ones were invited to speak in front of the crowd, to express their feelings or share a memory of Campbell.

A poem entitled “The Glow of the Rose” was recited. The rose, a symbol for the AGD sorority, was used as a metaphor for Campbell’s life that had been “plucked,” but still continued to “glow.”

The AGD sisters sang “Sister You’re Never Alone” in unison to show support for Campbell and one another.

To show assistance to Campbell’s family after the incident, Rager started a GoFundMe page to initially help with the funeral costs.

In its first week, the Campbell Family Support GoFundMe page has raised nearly $3,500. Additionally, more than 100 people have donated to the cause.

“I didn’t expect the GoFundMe page to do this well. It’s insane,” Rager said.

However, the family decided it would rather donate the money to Assumption High School, where Campbell graduated in 2013 as well as the Home of the Innocents, a non-profit shelter and pediatric convalescent center in Louisville.

Rager said Campbell worked at the WKU Child Care Centers on campus and had a love for children.

“Since she loved kids so much, her parents decided [the Home of the Innocents] would be a good cause to donate to,” Rager explained.

Campbell also had large aspirations for after she graduated, according to Rager. She was pursuing a degree in political science, and following her summer 2016 internship in Washington D.C., she planned on moving back to the the nation’s capital next year.

“She always wanted to work on the Hill,” Rager said. “She wanted to move there and she was already looking at jobs she wanted to apply for. Oh gosh, she adored that city.”

During the vigil, one of the speakers joked about Campbell’s love for Washington D.C. and her internship.

“We found a journal from her time in D.C. this past summer and it was straight D.C. facts, including things like the population. This is so Stephanie,” Morgan Goetz, Owensboro senior and Campbell’s AGD sister, said.

When Campbell moved back from Washington D.C. she acted as a Gamma Chi during fall 2016 formal sorority recruitment. A Gamma Chi is a recruitment mentor for possible new members.

“There were 10 new girls in the new pledge class who said the reason they joined was Stephanie, and the reason they stayed was Stephanie,” Deanne Fuesting, Nashville junior and roommate of Campbell, said.

“It’s only been five weeks since school started, and she already made an impact on 10 girls’ lives. That’s just the kind of person Stephanie was,” Fuesting added.

During Campbell’s time as a Gamma Chi, Alexandria Kennedy, coordinator of Greek Affairs, was given the opportunity to work with her.

“She really was an outstanding young woman,” Kennedy said. “All of the things people were saying at her vigil were eloquently put. She was truly an incredible woman.”

The AGD sorority, which Kennedy is an alumna of, has a ritual called the “Alpha Gamma Delta Purpose” that includes the standard “to hold truth inviolable, sincerity essential, kindness invaluable,” among others.

“It includes different ways women can become the best versions of themselves, and I think Stephanie fully embodied every single part of our purpose,” Kennedy said.

When Kennedy was first informed of Campbell’s death, her first reaction was to reach out Campbell’s AGD sisters and the Gamma Chis she worked with during recruitment. She encouraged them to contact the Counseling and Testing Center if they needed a professional to speak to.

“That’s not necessarily a Greek Affairs policy, it’s more of a university expectation that we check on those students and make sure they are okay,” Kennedy said.

As of now, Student Affairs has not planned a remembrance event of its own. However, Kennedy as well as Charley Pride, director of student activities, attended Campbell’s vigil.

“So many of us in our own way are showing support individually,” Kennedy said. “We wanted to make sure attention was paid to Campbell’s vigil, visitation and funeral and not to draw attention away from her family.”

Campbell’s visitation was held on Sept. 29 followed by a funeral service at the Ratterman & Sons Funeral Home in Louisville on Sept. 30.

“Her service was in Louisville, and so the vigil gave a chance for people in Bowling Green to come and say goodbye and grieve,” Rager said.

At the vigil, many expressed how much they would miss Campbell’s “guidance,” “strength” and “love for others.”

“It didn’t matter if you knew her five seconds, five years or 50, she left an impact on you and she was just such an inspiration,” Goetz said.

Reporter Nicole Ares can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].