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Friends and family gather at vigil to honor senior Wynn Burrus


A candlelight vigil was held on Friday, Sept. 20 at Polk Place to honor the memory of UNC senior Wynn Burrus. 

Burrus' friends and family  — as well as other members of the campus community — gathered to remember her for the person she was and the life she lived.

The 21-year-old business administration major passed away at UNC Hospitals on Sept. 17 after battling an infection for three days. Several people who knew Burrus shared their thoughts and fondest memories of her. 

One of those speakers was senior Mary McCall Leland, one of her best friends. 

“The kind of love that Wynn gave took more than kindness,” Leland said during the vigil. “It took wisdom. She paused and wondered about people, about the world, and then she asked and looked at people and saw what they needed.”

Those who knew Burrus best said she had a passion for helping others. 

She graduated from Broughton High School in Raleigh, where she demonstrated a love for the special needs students at her school. She organized a prom for those students and even extended it to include all special needs students across Wake County. Burrus also arranged for some members from the North Carolina State University basketball team to play with special needs students at her school. 

This dedication to others continued into her time at UNC, where she started a pen pal program called Hope for Hope, which allowed UNC students to connect with children at Hope Charter Leadership Academy through letters. 

Senior and president of UNC's chapter of Kappa Delta, Jillian Slowinski, said she would describe Burrus with one word: intentional. 

"Every word she spoke and every action she did, she knew she was making people feel thought of," Slowinski said. 

Burrus' academic and community-driven efforts were recognized by many. 

Coming into UNC, Burrus received the Morehead-Cain scholarship and later received the Corre Anding Stegall Collegiate Leadership Award for her sorority, Kappa Delta. She also had a job offer at J.P. Morgan in New York City as an investment banking analyst after graduating in May 2020. 

Wynn was the friend who would text you in the morning of a big exam to say good luck, said senior Patton Orr. He said she lived to love people every day. 

Leland said love changes people. And if someone has ever doubted that, they must have not met Wynn. 

“Wynn will live in our hearts and in our lives and on this campus through the ripple effect of love that will rise from this tragedy," Leland said during the vigil. "We will keep loving as we live and living as we love, and we will do it more like Wynn.” 


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