By Katie Ferrell
As the 2017 Commencement approaches, it comes time for the senior class to conclude their careers as Saint Michael’s students by recognizing those who have influenced them and helped them along the way of their journey. This year’s graduating class will be waving goodbye to the place they have called home for four years while missing some people.
Sarah Green, a member of the senior class, has organized pins for any students, faculty, or family members to wear during the commencement season in order to recognize their beloved friend, Jerry Collins, who passed away this fall. “They represent him still being a part of our class,” Green said .
Jack O’Callaghan ‘17, one of Collins’ best friends since their start at Saint Michael’s, described the pins as very representative of Collins’ personality. “The pins that were made for Jerry [are] basically just a more permanent recreation of the pins we made just after he died. The purple and zebra colors are the colors of his infamous P-Day shirt. His P-Day shirt is very symbolic of him because it was a very provocative and obscene kind of statement, it kind of just wraps who Jerry was.”
Natalie Chamberlain, ’17, was another close friend of Collins. “We wanted some way to remember him and honor him at graduation and have him there with us,” says senior Natalie Chamberlain. “The whole idea was to be able to carry him with us through graduation.”
Green had the original idea to create these pins. After speaking with a family friend who owns a trophy company, she set up a Go Fund Me page and began fundraising. “Within three days we met the goal. I only needed $1400 and I ended up with $2800,” Green said.
The remaining money not used for the pins will be donated to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Students at Saint Michael’s participated in a mental health walk put on by NAMI a week following the death of Collins.
For some students, wearing pins or other awarded decorations at graduation means much more than just their face value. “It symbolizes commitment and accomplishment of something,” said Peggy Imai, Director of Study Abroad. Graduation apparel can symbolize a person’s experience with at St. Michael’s College, representing their hard work and achievement over a period of time.
Collins’ peers are not only hoping to carry him through graduation with them, but they represent bonds that were created throughout a college experience, just as other sashes and pins are meant to do. “Being friends with him was really easy to do,”
Chamberlain said, as there are 2,000 pins available for his many friends to wear to hold him with them as they spend some of their last moments on campus.
If you would like to grab a pin, they are available in the campus store.