Richard Collins III, a 23-year-old student at Bowie State University, was days away from graduation when he was killed in a possible hate crime. Collins would never walk at the ceremony Tuesday, but the school honored his memory in a touching way.
School officials held a moment of silence for Collins during the commencement exercises. They also draped what would have been his graduation gown over a front row seat that was left empty in remembrance.
University President Mickey L. Burnim will posthumously confer Collins’ degree and make a statement on behalf of the school from which Collins would have received a degree in business administration, a school representative told HuffPost.
Collins was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army a mere two days before he was fatally stabbed on the University of Maryland campus Saturday morning. He was visiting UMD during graduation weekend and was waiting for an Uber when he was attacked.
Sean Christopher Urbanski, a 22-year-old student at the University of Maryland, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder as well as first-degree assault following the attack. Federal law enforcement became involved after the UMD Police Department discovered Urbanski’s connection to a Facebook group that posts disparaging content about African Americans and other minority groups.
Collins III was also honored Monday night in Bowie State University’s Samuel L. Myers Auditorium with a candlelight vigil. Ltc. Joel Thomas told the hundreds of mourners in attendance that “when he remembers Collins, he will first think of his character,” according to The Baltimore Sun.
“Character is one of the qualities most valued in a leader,” Thomas said. “And Collins had that ― he was trustworthy, honest and dependable.”
Thomas encouraged those upset to “grieve and cry,” but also to laugh at Collins’ silliness.
“Laughter has documented healing powers,” he said.