A Light Shining While Shared Among Others

Photo by Ian Lyle

The UCA community came together in remembrance of late student Rebekah Harpool during a candlelight vigil at the campus amphitheater on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. The vigil was orchestrated by the UCA choir, Wesley Foundation and the Schedler Honors College.

A few hundred students attended the vigil.

“You sit and/or stand here this evening shoulder to shoulder with a community that will be there for you,” UCA President Houston Davis said during the memorial. Throughout his speech, Davis emphasized how community is built among students during hardship such as Rebekah’s death. 

UCA sophomore Rebekah Harpool died late Thursday morning after being treated for head trauma at a hospital for injuries she suffered from being struck by a vehicle around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot east of the HPER Center on campus. 

Harpool was a student in the Honors College and pursuing a degree in special education.

Some of Harpool’s closer community later spoke on behalf of her friends and roommates. Allissa Layes and Gwendolyn Daniels approached the fellowship with joyful memories of their recently lost friend. They brought smiles and laughter to those remembering who Harpool was. 

“Rebekah was a truly good and selfless person. She devoted her time and her efforts to volunteering with children with special needs,” Layes said. “Everything she did, she did it with everything she had, whether that be learning … or jamming to Taylor Swift in the living room.”

A resounding message throughout the vigil was to be kind to yourself. 

“It’s something that I heard Rebekah say, I couldn’t tell you how many times, over the past couple of years that I’ve known her,” Daniels said. “She didn’t tolerate anyone being too hard on themselves … She didn’t want us to beat ourselves up over small things or things we couldn’t change. She just always wanted us to love ourselves and give ourselves kindness that maybe everyone else wouldn’t.” 

Bookmarks with the phrase “Be Kind To Yourself” were given to attendees. Dean of the Honors College, Patricia Smith, said that the phrase was chosen because “we all believe that if Rebekah had one last message to share, it would be to give yourself grace.” 

“The loss of Rebekah shows us that a life is not richer just because it is long. As Robert Langley says, a sound is not sweeter because it is in a longer song,” Smith said.

The UCA choir performed songs at the vigil as well. As students, faculty members and loved ones shared the flame that was passed from candle to candle, the songs brought tears to the eyes of many in the gathered community. The memories of Harpool were just as vibrant as the candlelight that lit the amphitheater in the hearts of those grieving her loss. 

“There are some who bring a light in the world that even after they are gone, their light remains,” Smith said. “Rebekah is one of those people. Her light will forever shine in our hearts, and this is why we could think of no better service than a candlelight memorial to show the world how Rebekah’s light will continue on, guiding our way in the choices we make, like a candle burning bright."

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