B-CU pays tribute to two slain students during campus memorial
BY JAHSON LEWIS
The Bethune-Cookman University family paid tribute to Timesha “Lisa” Carswell and Diona McDonald Wednesday during a moving memorial service held on campus.
Carswell, 21, and McDonald, 19, died on Sept. 17 after being fatally shot by 27-year-old York Zed Bodden, a convicted felon from Miami during a rental dispute at the Carolina Club Apartments.
Micah Parham, 19, was critically injured and remains hospitalized. Sidney Washington tried to take the gun from Bodden, then jumped through a window and escaped being shot.
Bodden, who was alleged to be in a relationship with Carswell, was arrested on Sept. 18 in Miami and allegedly hanged himself the next day in his cell at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
McDonald was from Detroit; Carswell and Parham from Inkster, Mich., a neighboring suburb. The young women were both music majors and sang in B-CU’s Concert Chorale.
Wednesday’s ceremony was opened by the chorale with upbeat gospel, which transitioned to more solemn music as people began filing into the school’s Performing Arts Center.
The slain students were members of the choral. Purple ribbons were distributed to all who entered the center in their remembrance.
Words of comfort
In her opening prayer, Kierra Benton, president of Alpha Nu Omega Sorority, told the crowd gathered that “today we won’t mourn but rather celebrate the lives of these two women.”
B-CU Student Government Association President Chad Powell challenged the mourners to intensify their sense of faith and family on campus.
Jennifer Adams, president of B-CU’s National Alumni Association, shared with the students that “we all deeply care about you and want to protect you.’’
Daytona Mayor Derrick Henry also offered condolences to the university and the slain students’ families on behalf of himself, his wife and the City of Daytona Beach.
“Despite this terrible and senseless tragedy, there should never be a rift between you and the city,” he said. We are one.”.
He continued, “It is very difficult to have faith, but this institution was founded on faith.” He concluded by adding, “This city embraces you and loves you.”
Recruited by choral director
Damon Dandridge, director of B-CU’s Choral Studies, said the chorus season would be dedicated to Carswell and McDonald.
He shared how he had personally recruited the two from Michigan. He also mentioned the chorale would wear the purple ribbons distributed to all upon entering for the entire season in honor of the slain students.
Dandridge called Carswell “an amazing person who was always full of joy. She had a smile that could fill a room with full bliss.” He added that Carswell, a transfer student this fall, was excited to attend B-CU and sing in the chorale.
“She had a carefree spirit who cared for and got along with everyone. I am thankful she meant so much to so many and will truly be missed,’’ he added.
Several friends of McDonald spoke. One told the audience that “Diona wouldn’t want us to be sad for long.’’
They told how she was always happy and smiling. One added that McDonald had given “her heart to Christ three weeks ago.’’
B-CU President Dr. Edison Jackson spoke as the university’s leader and a parent.
“As a parent, I could only imagine the pain of losing a child. As a friend, I am all too familiar. My heart was grieved when I heard the tragic news last week,” he said Wednesday.
He also acknowledged Parham and Washington, whom he said “showed great courage” and was proud of them. He mentioned that all too often senseless acts of violence penetrates communities and tries to destroy them.
He called for each person gathered to view this as an opportunity to “wake up and make a difference.” The president concluded by saying, “There is a war. If you let love rule, maybe we won’t have to go this way again. Pray for yourselves and others, who may not see the way.”
Dr. Arnold Culbreath, assistant pastor of Life at Heirs Covenant Church of Cincinnati, Ohio, also offered powerful words of prayer, faith, hope and wisdom.
“Life is short. We need to make the time to let the people we love and appreciate know. One moment they are here, and the next they’re not,” he said, warning the students to “be on the lookout for the enemies of life.”
He added, “This was a senseless, untimely, catastrophic occurrence. Even in the midst of this tragedy, God is in control and he has a plan.”
Jahson Lewis, a Daytona Times intern, is a senior Mass Communications major at Bethune-Cookman University.