The Rev. Dr. Janet Fuller’s remarks:
“In the midst of our celebration to honor your accomplishments, we also remember a member of the class of 2015 who is not with us today. Lauren Dunne Astley was a gracious presence with us in the early preparations and relationships in the spring and summer before we all got here. She connected with many members of her class and was beloved and befriended by many of you.
Unfortunately, she never made it to Elon. She was murdered by her former boyfriend, two months after she ended the relationship. And while we were and are shocked by this terrible crime, it happens to 3 or 4 young women every day in this country, 8000 of them since Lauren’s death in July 2011.
Lauren was beautiful, popular, and smart. She made friends easily, as many of you can attest. She loved to sing and to shop, and to talk half the night. She was beautiful, had a sweet and bright spirit, made friends easily, and loved her many friends who loved her back as intensely. She sparkled. We will always remember her with warm affection and gratitude at Elon.
We are grateful that Lauren’s parents are here today to help us tenderly remember Lauren, to celebrate your success, and to urge us to act and move, vote and speak to change every part of our culture that encourages or makes violence against girls and women normal or acceptable. The absence of her loving spirit with us now reminds us that there is work to do to change our cultures and world, to teach healthy grieving, safe break ups, and to create a society that engenders the full meaning of liberty and justice for all.
Lauren would want us to celebrate the beauty of your lives, and the hope you represent for this world we share. Let us together make a difference in Lauren’s honor! She would say to us now, Keep on Sparkling!”