Yesterday was a day of both celebration and sadness. Eve Carson, Student Body President at the University of North Carolina, was murdered Wednesday March 5th in what now appears to be a random act of violence. Carson was honored on Tuesday by over 10,000 members of the community in which she had established herself as an admired leader. Together the community honored her and celebrated her life and spirit and focused on the positive influence she had in her short lifetime.
When the story unfolded last week we had a wonderful discussion with our kids about guns, violence, celebrity, etc.. My daughter raised the question of how strongly the University reacted, closing down all activities the day after her murder. Her discomfort stemmed from the fact that we don't have the same strong reaction to equally senseless loss of life that pervades in our inner cities. Why don't we stop and honor the small child who is killed in a gang related shooting? Good point. Perhaps it is because Eve touched so many. Regardless of why the world seemed to stop for a time in Chapel Hill after her death, I believe it is a good thing. Anytime we stop and think, it's a good thing. We all agreed on that. But it did make me reflect on why the community had such an outpouring and I believe it comes back to her role as a leader.
From the stories that were shared, Eve was a presence on campus. She adored the university and they adored her. She never stopped thinking of both ways to enjoy it and improve it. Her enthusiasm was infectious and brought out the most positive, creative sides of the people with whom she interacted, and there were many. She repeatedly inspired shared vision, challenged the process, enabled others (very often her seniors) to act, and encouraged the heart; with her enthusiasm, her genuineness, and her simple humanity she modeled the way. She was a bright light.
It is this light and hope, this sense of what's possible, the energy this young leader provided that was mourned Tuesday along with the young woman. Something the community needed and wanted was taken away with Eve.
She leaves behind many friends, a beloved family, a grateful student body, and a world that will miss the difference her leadership could have made. She also leaves behind an example worth following, one of leading with joy, energy, commitment, and hope. That light will not dim and may light the way for another young leader to emerge. For that, Eve, thank you.