Auburn Cares holds annual student remembrance ceremony in ongoing effort to support the Auburn Family

Published: April 26, 2021

Article body

Auburn remembered the lives of four students in a Sunday memorial ceremony that was offered by the campus outreach group Auburn Cares. 

The ceremony took place in Auburn’s Memorial Garden and was hosted by Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Bobby Woodard. The event was presented virtually and in-person, with the following students being remembered: Maxwell Fink, Jack Kennedy, Peter Smith and Carter Wilson. Readings and remarks were given by student leaders, and a flower ceremony involved the late students’ family.

Since 2012, Auburn Cares has conducted the Student Memorial Ceremony annually. When an incident of a student death occurs, Auburn Cares reaches out to the families to offer condolences, provide support and handle all of their affairs on campus.

The remembrance ceremony allow the families of late students to return to campus in honor of their loved one and to reflect on all they meant to the university.

“It is the time when we honor their student, sit with them in grief and share hugs and tears,” said Katherine Hettinger, manager of Auburn Cares. “It is the time when we literally and figuratively provide the human touch to these families.”

Hettinger and her staff reflect the Auburn Creed’s call for the human touch daily as students and parents call to ask questions, talk through options and learn about resources.

Previously titled Student Advocacy & Case Management, Auburn Cares was created in 2011 to support students struggling with complex issues that could not be addressed by one single office on campus, according to Hettinger. Students often experience hardships, both academically and personally, during their collegiate career. Through the work happening at Auburn Cares, students are provided support, assistance and resources allowing them to successfully navigate these times. 

The organization helps students find campus and community resources, supports students with mental health matters and connects them with mental health providers. The office also supports students during times of sickness, injury or financial difficulties and works with students to solve problems and help with crisis management.

“Our office works directly with students, parents, faculty and staff to support students struggling with a variety of issues, ranging from academic concerns to medical and mental health emergencies,” said Hettinger. “We help students identify resources, problem-solve solutions, set goals and advocate for themselves.”

The Auburn Cares office also oversees the Campus Food Pantry, which assists students who are struggling with food insecurity, and handles the medical withdrawal process for the entire campus.

“The Auburn Cares office is so important because it serves as the centralized reporting office on campus for students of concern or those who are struggling,” said Hettinger. “Our goal is always the safety and well-being of the student.”

To learn more about Auburn Cares and its resources, visit this website.

Submitted by: Payton Beck

Memorial Garden

The student memorial ceremony is held at the Memorial Garden-a space for remembrance and reflection.