Temple remembers murdered student Jenna Burleigh

Burleigh was in her first week at Temple, when she was killed near Main Campus.

Hundreds of people came together Thursday afternoon to honor the life of Jenna Burleigh at a vigil held at Founder's Garden. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, the normal hustle and bustle of traffic through Founder’s Garden was at a halt. Nearly 300 members of the Temple community stood for a moment of silence for murdered student Jenna Burleigh.

Temple Student Government and the Temple Progressive NAACP student organization hosted a vigil to remember Burleigh, a junior film and media arts major who was killed near Main Campus last week and found dead more than 100 miles away. A former student, Joshua Hupperterz, has been charged with her murder.

See pictures from the vigil

Student leaders and administrators spoke to the crowd of students, faculty and staff for the 45-minute vigil. Red carnations were held by most in the group, which some gripped while moved to tears.

Chris Carey, the director of Student Activities, spoke during the open-mic portion of the vigil. He read a freeform activity written by Burleigh in her “Shakespeare in the Movies” class during her first and only week at Temple.

Burleigh wrote:

“I’m really excited about this class, and excited to learn in general. I’m a transfer student so I’m excited to be at Temple in the city that I love. I grew up going to the Kimmel Center with my grandparents as well as the Walnut Street Theater with my parents. So I grew up loving plays and musicals and the orchestra. Now that I’m a film major, I live for seeing them put up on the big screen and all of the creative possibilities that directors have. In high school, I was never a fan of Shakespeare because I thought it was too hard to understand, but I’m excited to try to fully understand them better now. Overall, I’m just super excited to learn and for all my classes to start.”

“As we try to honor Jenna and what that means for our community…maybe we can approach the learning and the growth that we all can do here on this campus in the same way she did in just a short time,” Carey added.

President Richard Englert spoke to students before heading to meet with Burleigh’s family and attend her viewing. He told the crowd he could not stay for the whole vigil, but would “convey to [the Burleigh family] the faces, the sympathies…of you all.”

“Although I never met Jenna Burleigh, I have learned Jenna is a remarkable person,” Englert said.

Englert encouraged the crowd to donate to a new charity set up by Burleigh’s parents called “Univest Foundation – Jenna’s Blessing Bags.” Checks can be made payable to the Univest Foundation, 14 N. Main St., Box 197, Souderton, Pennsylvania, 18964.

“We remember her as a role model,” Englert added. “We honor her by continuing the work she started.”

Several student leaders spoke to the crowd, like deputy Campus Safety representative Shawn Aleong.

“Jenna is not gone…she is an angel on this campus,” Aleong prayed with the crowd.

Students like sophomore political science major Maddy Charney and sophomore journalism and global studies major Cecilia D’Arville planned to planned to come to the vigil to honor Burleigh’s memory.

“It kinda makes everything feel a little…I’ve been having a lot of worries just with the start of classes, but they just feel kinda stupid now or a little bit small,” Charney said. “It makes me put everything into perspective differently. It’s horrible.”

“We’re orientation leaders all at Temple, our whole job was to welcome students to Temple and like make them feel assured,” Charney added.

“There is an emphasis on protecting yourself, but also just knowing there are some things in this world that are beyond control,” D’Arville said. “There’s no one to blame in the situation except for the man who killed her. So a lot of times I feel like when the conversation turns on safety, it’s like, yes, you need to be safe but also you have to make sure it’s never making it seem like it’s Jenna’s fault.”

“You can only do so much to stay safe, but there are just some things in this world that are evil,” D’Arville added.

Students and staff also were able to write letters to the Burleigh family to share their condolences after the vigil was complete.

This vigil was just one way Burleigh’s memory and tragedy have been discussed. Students can also learn more about if their school is offering support, as well as utilize the Tuttleman Counseling Services on campus.

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