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Remembering Legacy Watkins’ 18

Jules Struck ’19, News Editor

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On Feb. 24, students, faculty and staff gathered in Alison Hall for the service for Legacy Watkins ’18, who passed away early on Feb. 23 in Cameroon as a participant of Dickinson’s study abroad program there. Watkins died of an undisclosed illness.

On the evening of Feb. 23, students held a candlelight vigil and placed flowers at the steps of Old West in honor of Watkins. This, as well as the memorial service the next day, will be followed by a third event, “planned for a later date,” according to MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson of the Dickinson College website.

One student, Ta-Tyanna Williams ’20, shares her relationship with Watkins: “I met Legacy in the fall of 2015 of my senior year in high school when I visited for Discover Diversity at Dickinson. She hosted Kim Atta & I. Ever since, I’ve kept in touch with her and she was truly one of the reasons I decided to enroll here at Dickinson. Soon as I came to campus last semester we’ve literally spent almost every day together. She was just someone I can always be myself around. She was never just my friend; she was my big sister.”

Williams was in attendance at the service, and said “I think at her memorial all the remarks were spot on. She was caring, outspoken and passionate about everything she did. You just knew she was present in a space.”

“One remark that stood out to me was Sofina [Odero’s ’18] metaphor of Legacy being the sun. She definitely was that: a star that never stopped shining,” said Williams.

The service was live-streamed so that students in Cameroon and Watkins’ family, residents of Trenton, New Jersey, could participate. After a moment of silent reflection, Interim President Neil Weissman and Director of Religious Life Donna Hughes spoke, followed then by Associate Professor of Africana Studies Lynn Johnson and Vice President for Finance & Administration Brontè Burleigh-Jones.

According to Bitts-Jackson, to Watkins Burleigh-Jones was a “Dickinson mom” and “described Watkins as ‘a part of my heart.’”

Watkins’ cousin and friends also spoke lovingly of Watkins, and described her as a “beautiful soul,” according to Bitts-Jackson.

In addition, the Dickinson group Sister Circle in collaboration with Landis House invited people to write letters to the five students abroad in Cameroon this semester. According to the Dickinson College Women’s & Gender Resource Center Facebook page, the group collected letters to “extend our community support to students who are abroad and cannot easily access on-campus resources.”

Watkins was in her third year at Dickinson College, studying Africana studies. She was 20 years old at the time of her passing.

For those in need of counseling, please visit the Wellness Center Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. – noon and 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

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Remembering Legacy Watkins’ 18