Class gift memorializes Keller: Senior class donates scholarship in memory of classmate

Brian Keller ’16, who passed away in the summer of 2015. (Chuck Zovko)

It is hard to put into words the feeling on campus this past Sunday afternoon. Skillman, usually filled with bustling students opening their textbooks after prolonging the inevitable all weekend, was eerily quiet.

Colton Chapel, however, was filled. At 2:00 p.m., a continuous stream of students coming from all corners of campus could be seen walking towards the memorial service to celebrate the life of Brian Keller ‘16.

The heartfelt stories told by Keller’s friends and the performances given by Lafayette College’s Chamber choir and a cappella groups, Soulfege and Cadence, cut through the sadness that saturated the air. Towards the end of the service, four members of the senior class presented this year’s plans for the Class Commencement Gift: a scholarship in Keller’s name.

Members of the graduating class annually present the college with a gift comprised of their individual contributions. Over the years, this gift has funded over $20,000 worth of summer internship stipends for current Lafayette students.

This year, the goal is to raise enough money to fund the internship stipends, when $10,000 is reached, the school will launch the Brian Keller Scholarship.

The scholarship in Keller’s name will work towards preserving his legacy and ensuring that it lives on long after those who knew him have graduated.

“Brian was huge on helping others,” friend and teammate Dan Dellovade ‘16 said. “This scholarship would be helping out someone else, just like he would have wanted.”

According to Stephanie Benko ’16, the scholarship will also serve as a healthy way for the college community to mourn their loss.

“Our class is able to come together to raise money for our friend, teammate and brother. And in doing so, we are all supporting each other,” said Benko, who announced the scholarship at the ceremony.

“I can’t think of a better senior class gift,” President Alison Byerly said. “[Brian’s] name will still be remembered at Lafayette years from now, and really nothing is more effective than a scholarship in ensuring there will always be someone who is the Brian Keller Scholar.”

The Senior Gift Committee will be organizing events throughout the year in order to raise sufficient funds for the scholarship, as well as the internship stipends. They predict that these requirements will require approximately 93 percent participation in order to reach their goal.

Multiple trustees have already reached out and promised to match donations made by the graduating class.

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