In the solemn glow of the candlelight Sunday night, I could see the faces of familiar peers and professors holding hands and standing close. The dark, ominous sky was met by a multitude of Ohio Wesleyan students, faculty and staff holding candles and standing together in honor of Jake Von Der Vellen.
Seeing the great number of people who attended the vigil for Jake spoke volumes to me about the person he was.
I only had the privilege of talking with him two or three times, but I know many people who love Jake and are missing him dearly, and that is the clearest sign of a life well lived.
His passing away has reverberated across campus in a short amount of time, bringing all different groups of people together in their sorrows and in their remembrance of his life. A 19-year-old with that kind of presence is someone special.
I’ve heard of teenagers dying in car accidents, but it never seemed like something that could happen in my little corner of the world — certainly not at OWU, not to my friends. The stories I hear on the news never feel quite as real as when I know people affected by the situation.
The unity on campus this week has been remarkable. Students are sharing memories and comforting one another. It seems that OWU never fails to stand strong together, as one loving and unbreakable community. That’s one thing I love about this university.
It’s clear Jake made a powerful impact on the lives of many of his peers and his kind-heartedness is remembered. I have no doubt a person like him is in a far better place now.
In just two short years, it’s apparent he had already made a lasting impact on this campus and all who call this university their second home. Although his life was short, I’m told he was the kind of person who lived his days to the fullest and was always fun to be around.
If we could all learn from Jake and follow his example, greeting each day with enthusiasm and ready to make a difference, imagine what a better place the world would be.
My sympathies and my prayers are with all those who love Jake. Keep his legacy alive.