Ten years ago, the Chapel Hill community faced a terrible tragedy. Eve Carson's death was at the forefront of news at this time in 2008, but the direct memory of her has faded away with the years.
But her legacy lives on in many ways on campus.
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Eve Carson was the student body president, a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honors society, a Morehead-Cain scholar and a strong leader, but also humble, kind and goofy, said Megan Mazzocchi, associate director of the Morehead-Cain Foundation.
Carson was killed on the night of March 5, 2008, after being robbed and kidnapped. For months the University community mourned the loss. Over 10,000 people attended a memorial service in the Smith Center commemorating her and her involvement at UNC.
Now, ten years later, some UNC students are so removed from the event that they don’t know her story.
“They may recognize the name, but not a lot of people know what she stood for and how big of a figure she was on campus,” said Kate Frauenfelder, executive director of the Eve Carson Scholarship.
As younger students arrive on campus, Mazzocchi said it’s important to share the legacy of hope Carson left behind.
“For those of us who were blessed enough to know Eve, it has become one of our life purposes to try to keep her memory and legacy alive for those who didn’t have the privilege of knowing her,” she said.
Carson is remembered on campus today through the Eve Carson Scholarship, which honors UNC juniors with a $5,000 summer stipend to pursue a project they’re interested in and a semester’s worth of tuition.
“It was actually in Eve’s platform as student body president to have a scholarship for juniors,” Frauenfelder said.
Elinor Benami, the first Eve Carson scholar, said she thought the idea of the scholarship was beautiful.
“I think it expressed this kind of fundamental belief of people being able to learn and to grow and develop and that we’re not fixed at the time when we first enter into college,” she said.
Zack Newbauer, former executive director for the scholarship, said the current scholarship embodies what Eve would have wanted.
“What is the point of this scholarship?” he said. “It’s not a daily reminder of tragedy. It’s a daily reminder of the opportunity of making every moment count.”
Making every moment count is something Carson stood for. Newbauer said if we all strive to do that, Eve’s legacy will live on, whether the specific story is known or not.
Students also often remember Eve’s name from the Eve Carson 5K, an annual race put on by the Pi Beta Phi and Phi Delta Theta sororities. The 5K raises funds for the scholarship foundation.
While usually 50 percent of the funds are given to the scholarship, this year they gave more, said Madison Forsey, president of Pi Beta Phi.
“Since this year was the tenth anniversary and they wanted to extend another scholarship, we donated 80 percent of the funds,” she said.
This year, the scholars will use their summer stipend to take advantage of opportunities like working in Washington D.C. at a human rights law firm, creating a documentary and teaching computer coding internationally.
Seeing students do amazing things with the scholarship reminds Newbauer that Eve’s legacy is more than just broad ideas and that her legacy continues to impact real people.
“Those ideas make me feel good,” he said. “Seeing the ideas take effect every year makes it real.”
Carson’s memory continues to live on campus through everyday actions. She was described as radiating joy, helping students grow, bringing people together and embodying the Carolina way. Frauenfelder said if we can remember to do these things, Carson’s legacy will live for a long time.
“Eve was the most involved person you would’ve ever met,” Frauenfelder said. "(She was) very dedicated to service but she always remembered to stay humble and I think that’s what made her really special.”
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