To commemorate her late friend Ciara Deprill, junior English major Robin Hernandez will hold an educational symposium on alcohol use and the effects of drunk driving.
Last weekend marked the one year anniversary of the car accident that took the life of Deprill.
On Feb. 3 2006, Deprill, a 19-year-old sophomore, was killed in a car crash on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Deprill was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, another Temple student, was driving under the influence of alcohol, police said last year. Although Hernandez helped organize a candlelight vigil at the Bell Tower in remembrance of Deprill last year, she said she wanted to do something bigger to draw more people.
“I felt like she was just going to be remembered as a statistic and I did not want that to happen, because she was such a great person,” Hernandez, a friend and former co-worker of Deprill’s, said. “I wanted to … [use her] memory to hopefully
inspire people to make responsible choices.”
The symposium, which will be held Feb. 21, will provide students with an opportunity to not only honor Deprill’s life but to also learn about coping with the death of a loved one and about preventing alcohol and drug abuse.
Hernandez approached Danna Bodenheimer,
an educational coordinator for the Campus
Alcohol and Substance Awareness Office, last year to help plan the event.The office, which is a part of Tuttleman Counseling Services, counsels and educates students about alcohol use and safety.
Hernandez said she believed CASA’s involvement was the best way to make the memorial a bigger event.
Bodenheimer said her background in counseling and insight into grief assisted in translating Hernandez’s vision into a reality and making it engaging to a college community.
“I really believe that doing [the program] as a community is healing in a different way,” Bodenheimer said. The program will feature a number of speakers, including friends of Deprill, a grief expert and a student recovering from alcoholism, who will both share their personal stories and advice.
A volunteer from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an activist organization devoted to preventing drunk driving and its social causes through free victims services and educational programs, will also be in attendance. Connie Lewis, a victim advocate for MADD, said the volunteer, who is a Temple graduate, has lost her mother and sister due to drunk driving and will speak about her experiences and the consequences of drunk driving. The volunteer could not be reached for comment.
“I think everyone thinks drunk driving is very trivial … [but] it is so devastating,” Lewis said. “It can happen to anyone and it is the most preventable thing.”
Through this program, Lewis said, MADD aims to extend its activism by making Temple students aware of the tragic and life-altering effects of drunk driving.
Hernandez and Bodenheimer said they hope the program will cause people to re-evaluate their lives and their choices.
“My ideal situation would be when the program ends that everyone would sit there and think for a second,” Hernandez said, adding that her goal is not to lecture but to inform and stimulate responsible choices.
“It is not intended to preach rather than just to get people to think,” Bodenheimer said. Close friends of Deprill said they hope the program will allow people to get to know more about their friend – not only about her death but her extraordinary
life. “I hope that people, even if they didn’t know her, will get to hear her story,” said sophomore science and technology major Joanna Plazas, who met Deprill in her freshman year. “She was just one of those people that as soon as you met her you fell in love with her.”
Junior marketing major David Neto, who considered Deprill to be his little sister, said he hopes people come away with the knowledge about the dangers of drinking and driving. “It’s like everyday she’s in my mind,” Neto said. “She was just a person that could brighten your day with her smile.”
Hernandez agreed that Deprill “had a huge, powerful impact on people” and said she hopes that impact will transfer to the people who will attend the event.
Chesney Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.