By BLUE & GRAY PRESS STAFF
Students and faculty of the University of Mary Washington mourn the loss of Grace Rebecca Mann, a junior history and American studies major who died on Friday.
Mann was an executive board member of Feminists United on Campus, an active member of PRISM, a member of the president’s Task Force on Sexual Assault and a legal department intern with The Human Rights Campaign, an organization that works to bring equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.
Mann was a resident of Falls Hill and the daughter of Melissa and Thomas Mann. Thomas Mann is a Fairfax county juvenile and domestic relations court judge.
Students and faculty remember her warm personality, drive to advocate for others, compassion and cheerful attitude.
“As an individual, she worked with administration to create better sexual assault policies on campus,” Feminists United on Campus president Paige McKinsey wrote in a statement to the media, “as publicity chair of Feminists United, Grace helped plan events such as Take Back the Night. As an American Studies major, Grace focused her studies on the mass incarceration rates of underprivileged communities with hopes of becoming a lawyer to one day serve those communities.”
“As a friend,” McKinsey said, “Grace brought love and joy into every interaction and every person she came across.”
Students held a vigil for Mann on Saturday in front of James Farmer’s statue near Trinkle Hall. Following the vigil, the Relay for Life event on Saturday also dedicated the Luminaria, a traditional candle ceremony dedicated to those affected by cancer, to Mann and held a special memorial for her.
Mann’s funeral took place at the Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church on Tuesday. Nearly 1,200 people attended the service.
President Hurley, who spoke with Mann on multiple occasions, sent an email to the student body sharing his experience with her and his shock at her passing.
“She was a wonderful, well spoken, genuine person who sparkled with energy and lit up the room when she walked in,” Hurley said. “I know that many of you, like me, are confused and hurt and tremendously saddened by the news of her death. We will miss her dearly.”
Students and university groups, who also miss her, aim to honor Mann’s life and memory.
Feminists United on Campus, for example, will celebrate Mann’s life on Friday at noon on the lawn between Mason and Randolph Hall.
As a way to continue the work Mann did to combat sexual assault, the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault will set up a table and collect donations for the event.
According to McKinsey, she and other students will remember Mann’s drive to make a difference on and off campus.
“Grace was and will continue to be a constant source of inspiration and hope as we work to make this world a better place, the place Grace was working for, ” Mckinsey said.