Kalamazoo College Remembers Student After Meningitis Death

Posted at 9:21 PM, Feb 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-03 23:12:18-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A sophomore at Kalamazoo College has died – just three days after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

Emily Stillman was 19 years old.

Around 350 members of the campus community attended a vigil at Stenson Chapel on Sunday afternoon – lighting luminaries, shedding tears, and sharing memories of a girl they say found friends in everyone she met.

“She didn’t care who you were, what your background was or anything,” Abby Keizer says. Keizer met Stillman in a psychology class last quarter.

“She would just talk to you. She’d start off, ‘How’s your day going?’ and ‘Tell me about anything.’ You’d just go and she’d listen and ask questions. She was wonderful.”

“She was involved in lots of friendship groups,” Dean of Students Sarah Westfall says. Westfall never met Emily personally, but had heard all about her around campus.

“She was very involved in the theatre, so she had kind of a high-profile on campus. She connected to lots of different groups on campus, so it’s a loss for us. It’s a terrible loss for us.”

The college says Emily was taken to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo around 2:00 a.m. Friday morning. Later that day, she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

Sunday morning, she passed way.

“They took her off life support,” Keizer says. “I mean, everyone knew that she was gonna be one – which was sad – but when the email came out…it was hard. It was really hard.”

Kalamazoo College says they’ve contacted students who may have been in close contact with Emily the week before her death. Those students are receiving medical treatment to hopefully avoid another case of the disease.

Emily’s funeral will be held in Farmington Hills, Michigan on Tuesday morning. The college plans to transport as many students as they can.

Friends and classmates say hey will try to build a permenent memorial for Emily at a bench that she was regularly found at at outside Trowbridge Hall on campus.