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'It’s really fitting': Seniors dedicate week of kindness to memory of Wynn Burrus

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The Morehead-Cain senior class designated the week of March 23 as Morehead-Cain Senior Week of Compassion in the memory of Wynn Burrus, a Morehead-Cain scholar who died last semester.  

Whether it was donating blood, buying a coffee for a health care worker or calling a friend, the Morehead-Cain senior class dedicated a week of service, kindness and compassion to the memory of Wynn Burrus, a senior Morehead-Cain scholar who died last September.

Originally, the class planned to gather on March 27 for a day of service in honor of Burrus, Shawen Conway, a senior Morehead-Cain scholar, said. Because of the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent social distancing, the seniors decided to instead designate the week of March 23 as Morehead-Cain Senior Week of Compassion in her memory.

A list suggesting 15 different acts of service was sent out to the class, Elizabeth Stockton, a senior Morehead-Cain scholar, said. 

Patton Orr, another senior Morehead-Cain scholar, also helped organize the event. He said the organizers chose to honor Burrus in this way because of her history of service and spirit of helping people. 

“The hope was that, if we did this, it would be something that other classes could follow after and learn to come together as a class senior year,” Orr said. “I think it certainly embodied Wynn’s spirit of helping people and enjoying being a part of other people’s lives and seeing the impact that, collectively, we can all make on other people.”

Stockton agreed. 

“Wynn was known for always wholeheartedly loving everybody that she met,” she said. “She did that through a lot of different ways, whether that was through direct service to different organizations or whether that was just leaving notes on people’s desks or texting them to make sure that an interview or a test goes well.”

Conway said she has been participating by calling friends on their birthdays or to check in. Her family is also planning a craft drive to donate craft supplies to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Other Morehead-Cain scholars have been inspired to perform acts of service and kindness in Burrus’ memory. Jaya Mishra, a sophomore Morehead-Cain scholar, saw Burrus as a role model and said she was one of the closest friends she made in their sorority, Kappa Delta. 

Mishra has been reaching out to help classmates and professors as an act of kindness after learning about the week of service.

“In a time like this, Wynn would definitely be doing everything she could within her community and the Chapel Hill community to help others,"  Mishra said. "So I think it’s really fitting that they dedicated the week to her.”

Mary McCall Leland, a senior and close friend of Burrus, was inspired to donate blood for the first time and call senior citizens to check in. She said Burrus left a legacy of caring for others.

“It speaks to Wynn’s legacy that I feel better mourning the loss of my really good friend when I do something for someone else,” Leland said.

Burrus loved and impacted everyone she came into contact with, Stockton said.

“I think to try to embody authentic love and be that bright spot in people’s day just like she always was is something that is a challenge that we all want to take on,” she said.

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