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Look Back. Act Forward. The Profound Impact of the Remembrance Scholars Cohort (Podcast)
Julie Friend ’92 was a sophomore studying speech communication in the College of Visual and Performing Arts when Pan Am Flight 103 went down over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988. Friend and her roommate, Beth, were sitting in Cosmo’s Pizza on Marshall Street when the breaking news alert came on television.
The two sought comfort and community at Hendricks Chapel, the spiritual heart of campus, mourning the tragic loss of life with the remaining students, faculty and staff members who hadn’t departed for winter break.
Friend would eventually become part of the first cohort of Remembrance Scholars and the traditions surrounding Remembrance Week.
“Remembrance Week is such a wonderful way to pay tribute to the students and their families, and to instill the impact of the event on Syracuse as an institution. Syracuse could have decided to quietly give out scholarships and not acknowledge the incident, but I’m so proud of the institution for going the other way, embracing the people impacted by this tragedy and embracing the impact this had on our campus community. By making this a celebration of the lives lost means their memories will last forever,” says Friend, who represented Gretchen Joyce Dater.
“Look back. Act forward.”
Those words influence how Syracuse University’s Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars honor and celebrate the lives of the people who were killed during the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the bombing, which claimed the lives of 270 people, including 35 Syracuse students who were on their way home following a semester abroad.
Each October, the University community comes together during Remembrance Week events and activities—planned by that year’s cohort of Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars—to memorialize the victims and further educate the campus community about terrorism.
The impact of being a Remembrance Scholar lives on in Friend and her fellow scholars.
Today, as director of global safety and security at Northwestern University, Friend developed a comprehensive, universitywide approach to international risk management, including for the university’s students who study abroad. She wrote the industry standard on how colleges and universities respond to the death of a student abroad.
“Absolutely there’s a tie between my work and my time as a Remembrance Scholar. I think about that whenever I’m dealing with a student in crisis abroad. Knowing the parents of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims experienced the ultimate tragedy a parent can experience when their student goes to college, I think about these family members too, and what they might be going through. It is important for me to put myself in the shoes of those parents so I can be the best I can at my job,” Friend says.
Hannah (Visnosky) Rafferty ’16 and Luke Rafferty ’16 firmly believe they never would have met were it not for the Remembrance Scholars program. The encounter had life-changing ramifications for both Hannah, who earned a sport management degree from the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, and Luke, who earned a photography degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Today, the two are happily married and co-run a video production company, Filmiamo Productions, that tells the stories of successful companies, brands and individuals. They’re also raising their Orange goldendoodle, “Waverly,” named for the street where their Remembrance Scholars meetings took place inside Bird Library.
“When terrorists perform acts of terror, their goal is to instill fear and terrorize a community. The students that we represent didn’t get their chance at love, they didn’t get their chance at having an adulthood. While the terrorists were trying to harm and hurt people, Syracuse, in creating the Remembrance program, created something good out of this terrible situation. This allows us to talk about the victims of Pan Am 103 and honor their lives through us telling our story of how we met,” says Hannah, who represented Suzanne Marie Miazga.
“People of a certain generation remember Pan Am 103, but people of the newer generation don’t really know what happened that day. We get to provide that context and tell them that story to make sure those 35 Syracuse University students are always remembered and never forgotten. The student I represented [Alexia Kathryn Tsairis] wanted to be a photojournalist telling the types of stories Hannah and I do with our video production company. The Remembrance Scholar program gave me something powerful, and I’ve carried that with me well past graduation,” adds Luke.
On this “’Cuse Conversation,” these alumni reflect on the significant impact the Remembrance Scholars program had on them, share their stories of why they wanted to become Remembrance Scholars, and explain how they continue to honor the lives of the University students who died on the flight.
Friend recalls what it was like on campus in the aftermath of the incident and how there was an empty feeling when students returned to campus to start the spring semester. She also describes how powerful and emotional it was when the University marked the 30-year anniversary of the incident in 2018.
Hannah and Luke share how being Remembrance Scholars helped their Orange love story blossom. They also discuss the personal significance of both the Place of Remembrance—where each year the Syracuse community gathers for a candlelight vigil and rose-laying ceremony—and the Remembrance Wall—which features the names of the 35 Syracuse students who died.
Check out episode 152 of the “’Cuse Conversations” podcast featuring Julie Friend and Hannah and Luke Rafferty. A transcript [PDF] is also available.