Students remember friend, teammate with silent candlelight vigil


Dreyma Beronja/NW

REMEMBRANCE—Students and faculty left candles around the wildcat statue for a silent vigil.

Students and faculty gathered on NMU’s campus at the wildcat statue for a silent candlelight vigil on Monday evening to remember a student who died over the weekend. The NMU Police Department, assisted by the Marquette City Police Department, responded to a call reporting an unconscious young woman in Meyland Hall on Sunday afternoon.

According to NMU Chief Marketing Officer Derek Hall, the student is identified as Freshman Jayden Hill. In response, NMU will be lowering the flag tomorrow.

“The investigation is ongoing and there is no available info at this time. Campus counseling staff was on site immediately after the death. They are working with teammates, the living community and others who have expressed an interest,” Hall said.

According to a GoFundMe by her sister-in-law Aalyah Hill, Hill died due to reasons connected to her mental health.

“She was the most bubbly and upbeat person you would have ever met. She would drop whatever she was doing to help a friend in need with anything. This loss was something that our family never expected and never wanted to have to deal with. Jayden was such an active person in the community from shadowing district judges to being a collegiate track and field athlete. Everything she did was in an effort to better the life of someone else. Jayden was always fighting for equality for everyone and made it a point to stand up for those people who couldn’t stand up for themselves,” The GoFundMe description says.

The vigil was put together by friends and teammates on the women’s track and field team with around 150 in attendance. Flowers, balloons and candles were left in remembrance.

Teammates and friends spoke towards the end of the vigil telling others to check in on their friends and reach out if they themselves are struggling with mental health issues.

“Be there for one another, make sure you check up on your friends, you never know what they are going through, if you know someone who is struggling or going through something please don’t hesitate to reach out,” Crystal Walker, friend and teammate of Hill’s, said. “I know your friend might be mad at you but please don’t hesitate to contact someone. It hurts when someone you love, someone you met, someone you got to know is taken away from you in a split second.”

At the vigil, the teammates on the women’s track and field team said they would be dedicating their season to their teammate and friend.

On Tuesday morning, April 5, interim president Kerri Schuiling sent out an email informing the community that if anyone needs help to reach out as well as having provided resources for on-campus help.

“It’s important that students, faculty and staff know that support is available when you need someone to speak with to get through life’s tough times,” Schuiling said.

Students can receive assistance through the NMU Counseling Center, the University’s online, off-hours crisis counseling services and the Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) resource program. Students can also get help by reaching out to a faculty member, work supervisor, coach or other NMU staff member with whom they feel comfortable. Employees can receive support through the Employee Assistance Program or by talking to a department head or co-worker.

“Let’s take the initiative to check on one another; letting members of our university family know they are not alone or without support,” Schuiling said.

If you or a friend are struggling with mental health please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255