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SMC honors former student

Kaitlyn Rabach | Monday, April 29, 2013

On Sunday, the legacy of former Saint Mary’s student Lizzy Seeberg was honored at a blessing and dedication of a memorial garden in her name.

The ceremony was held in Riedinger Garden, and students, faculty and members of Seeberg’s family were in attendance.

“These young people are always going to have a place to remember Lizzy,” her father, Tom Seeberg, said. “It gives us a neat little place. To me, she is everywhere, but it is nice to have little spots where you can just sit and reflect.”

He said the family has thought about donating the bench for the past two years, but until now, the timing was never quite right.

“We think this turned out to be perfect timing,” Tom Seeberg said. “It allowed time for life messages of Lizzy to sink in to her classmates. It worked out well because her friends who are now seniors can enjoy the spot for a couple of weeks and then her friends that are now juniors will have the spot for another year.”

Junior Carolyn Backes, who was Seeberg’s roommate at the time of her death in September 2010, said this spot is symbolic of the strong commitment both the College and the family have to ensuring the legacy of her former roommate.

“I think it was a big tragedy, but both the College and this family grew out of it,” Backes said. “It did affect a lot of people and was very sad, but it also amplified the College’s commitment to mental health awareness. We want to prevent things like this from happening again, but this spot helps us remember the good things about Lizzy.

“Everyone is more aware of these real issues. Remembering Lizzy makes it real for us.”

Backes said the spot is a place where those dealing with anxiety, depression or similar mental illnesses can go to reflect and “get away from all the little worries in life”.

“Lizzy obviously struggled with anxiety and things,” Backes said. “I think this new bench and spot is such a serene place. It can be one of those places someone can go to think or to not think, deal with anxiety or really just calm down. “

Senior Megan Carey, a former friend of Lizzy’s, said this bench depicts the strong sisterhood that accompanies every Saint Mary’s Belle.

“At Saint Mary’s we always say, ‘Once a Belle, Always a Belle,'” Carey said. “Even though Lizzy had only been here for a little over two weeks ,she really embodied being a Smick chick.”

During the memorial, Carey shared one of her favorite Lizzy memories.

“One of my favorite stories of Lizzy is looking back at the first week of school when she marched into the bookstore and bought herself a French cross necklace,” Carey said. “She wanted to show the world how much she loved Saint Mary’s and how much it meant to her.”

Carey said she is thankful Lizzy’s family has done so much to continue her legacy.

“I think it is wonderful that her family created something at Saint Mary’s to remember her,” Carey said. “Even if someone didn’t know Lizzy, they could go to this spot and embrace its beauty.”

Tom Seeberg said Lizzy had strong feelings of affection for the College, emphasizing how important it is for the family to have connections to the place she once called home.

“Saint Mary’s has such fantastic women and we know that Lizzy knew she was in the right place,” Tom Seeberg said. “She loved this College.”

He said this dedicated spot is a place where her peers could stop by for a moment and reflect on their short time with Lizzy.

“It is a nice spot to just stop by for a moment,” Tom Seeberg said. “This is great because it can represent the moment she was in some of these girls’ lives.”

It is important for the family to stay in touch with Lizzy’s classmates, he said.

“We enjoy staying in touch with the young women Lizzy came to call her friends,” Tom Seeberg said. “As a parent the death of a child is different than coping with other deaths. You have hopes and dreams for your child and those dreams died. It is nice to see her friends go forth and pursue their dreams.”

The College’s Student Government Association would like to continue to work with the family and raise more awareness about issues of mental illness, sexual assault, violence and stalking, Kat Sullivan, 2013-2014 class president, said.

“This fall, we want to place a metal ribbon tree in the Student Center for victims and their loved ones to tie ribbons on it,” Sullivan said. “It will be a permanent, architectural display in the center of campus.”

Carey said the College must continue to take steps to raise awareness of mental illness.

“We should feel responsible as a College community to help our fellow sisters,” Carey said.